Atlanta rapper 21 Savage, the British born-artist who was arrested by ICE in 2019 for overstaying his visa, turned himself in to authorities on Thursday night on drug and weapons possession charges stemming from his earlier arrest. He was released on bond, his attorney confirmed to Variety.
Savage (real name: She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph) was taken into custody by ICE during Grammy Week in February of 2019, which amplified awareness of his immigration status. After considerable uproar over the questionable circumstances of his arrest — ICE claimed he had been convicted of felony drug charges in 2014; his attorneys clarified that the conviction was later vacated — the aggravated felony charge against him was dropped
Early this month, a local magistrate court judge signed a warrant authorizing his arrest on suspicion of felony drug possession and weapons possession in Georgia’s Dekalb County, where the rapper turned himself in on Thursday evening, according to Buzzfeed and other reports. Savage is scheduled to begin a co-headlining tour with J. Cole tonight (Sept. 24) in Miami.
Savage’s lawyers say he wasn’t aware of the warrant until Thursday, which claims that on the night of his ICE arrest, he threw a bottle out of his car window that was later found to contain codeine, and that a handgun was discovered inside the car.
“Last night’s manufactured charges are yet another example of how our justice system, from ICE down to the local level, unjustly targets young Black men who seek to exercise their rights,” Savage’s immigration attorney, Charles Kuck, tells Variety. “There is no legitimate basis for these charges nor for ICE’s continued antics, and we will fight until Mr. Joseph is justly vindicated.”
Kuck added that ICE officials have declined to terminate the case, although it is in line with parameters established by the Biden administration that would allow certain cases to be dropped.
A hearing over his immigration status is set for Nov. 1.
In a February 2019 interview after his release, Savage told “Good Morning America” that he was “definitely targeted” by the immigration-enforcement agency.
“I was just driving,” he said of his arrest on Feb. 3 on the grounds that he is actually from the United Kingdom and overstayed his visa. “And I just seen guns and blue lights. And then, I was in the back of a car and I was gone. They didn’t say nothing. They just said, ‘We got Savage.’”
Fans were confused in the hours after his arrest, as the rapper has always claimed to be from Atlanta. He was born in England and moved to Atlanta with he was family when he was 7. Apart from one brief visit to the U.K., that’s where he stayed.
“I’ve been in Atlanta probably 20 years, 19 years,” he said. “I’m from Atlanta, in my eyes. I’ve been here 20 years.”