Morally, A$AP Rocky was in the right. Legally, it's another story.
EDIT (8/14): ASAP Rocky was found guilty of assault, but won't need to serve any further jail time as the court did not find the assault particularly "serious." Instead, he will be subject to a relatively small fine of $1,300 in damages to the victim. He'll also need to cover the legal fees of both the victim and the state. ASAP Rocky is officially free. Case closed.
EDIT (7/25): Swedish prosecutors have officially charged A$AP Rocky and two members of his crew with assault. The trial will allegedly be held within the next two weeks.
Opinions about A$AP Rocky's current legal situation in Sweden remain contentious, but Sweden's handling of the case still offers a glimpse to Americans of how a "fair" justice system functions.
A$AP Rocky has been detained in a Swedish jail for three weeks now. While he's yet to be indicted, he's currently facing assault charges for beating up a local man who was harassing his crew and, allegedly, assaulting women on the street.
Here's where things get sticky: In order to properly assess this situation from a standard of legal "fairness," we first need to parse the moral elements from the legal ones.
Morally, A$AP Rocky was probably in the right, at least if you believe violence can ever be a moral response in the face of continuous provocation. Video evidence proves this. The "victim" and his friend had been pursuing A$AP Rocky and his crew for multiple blocks. It's unclear what the men wanted. There seemed to be a language barrier at play, but the men were agitated and acting aggressively. A$AP and his crew warned the men multiple times that they didn't want to fight and that they just wanted to be left alone. The men refused, bothering them again and again despite their multiple warnings.
At one point, A$AP's bodyguard physically pushed one of the men away. The man responded by smashing his headphones over the bodyguard's head, breaking them in the process. Again A$AP and his crew attempted to leave, but the men continued, now complaining about the broken headphones. Eventually, after being informed that the men had also been groping women, A$AP and his crew finally threw down, beating up one of the men before finally getting away.
The confrontation can be watched in two parts:
Asap Rocky Fight In Sweden (Full Video) www.youtube.com
A$AP Rocky and Crew Allegedly Attack Guy on Street in Stockholm | TMZ www.youtube.com
After watching both videos, it's hard to argue that A$AP didn't hold the moral high-ground. He actively tried to diffuse a tense situation with an aggressive stranger who was, at the very least, harassing him and his friends and, at worst, assaulting women on the street. One could even argue that the man deserved to get his a** beat.
But legally speaking, A$AP's crew got physical first. That makes them accountable within the eyes of Swedish law, regardless of whether or not they were provoked. Daniel Suneson, the Swedish prosecutor in charge of the investigation, confirmed this when he dropped A$AP's counterclaim against the "victim" over the headphone smack, clarifying it "may be considered as right to self-defense."
Moreover, while the women who claimed the men groped them were most likely telling the truth, these women would need to press charges against the men themselves in order for related charges to be pursued. A$AP Rocky's group wouldn't be able to do it for them, so if none of the women involved come forward, pursuing charges on that front is likely impossible.
Again, this is a situation wherein morality and legality don't necessarily match up. All that being said, the Swedish law remains "fair." Despite A$AP's moral high-ground, his group did technically beat up a person who was not actively physically attacking them.
Americans are used to celebrities and other wealthy people getting off for crimes with a slap on the wrist, even in situations where a poorer person would almost definitely have the book thrown at them. One need not look further than Ethan Couch, the " Affluenza Teen" who got a mere two years in jail for drunkenly killing a family of four.
In Sweden, this is not the case. The Swedish government is holding A$AP and his group responsible in the same way that they would hold any of their own citizens responsible in the same situation. To the Swedish government, A$AP's status as a rich celebrity and an American citizen are irrelevant. He broke Swedish law and therefore must answer to the Swedish justice system.
It's incredibly frustrating to watch the Swedish justice system's fairness play out in a case where the person being charged was provoked to the point that most would struggle to blame him for his violent reaction. At the same time, it's refreshing to see a justice system hold people accountable in equal measure, regardless of their wealth or social status.
Perhaps even if we disagree with the case's outcome, we should take note of the mechanisms behind it: nobody should be above the law, no matter how rich or influential they may be.
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