Will.I.Am Accuses Flight Attendant Of Racism
Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am has accused a Qantas airline flight attendant of racism after she called the police on him during a flight from Brisbane to Sydney.
The 44-year-old musician has claimed the ‘overly aggressive flight attendant’ singled him out after he missed instructions from the crew telling him to put his laptop away.
The Voice mentor – who is currently touring in Australia – had reportedly been wearing noise cancelling headphones when the safety announcement was made, meaning he hadn’t heard.
Despite having reportedly put away his laptop ‘quickly and politely’ after being told to do so, the flight attendant proceeded to call the police on him. Upon his arrival at Sydney airport, will.i.am was greeted by five police officers.
The Grammy Award winner proceeded to tell the story via Twitter, where he insinuated the flight attendant’s reaction had been racially motivated:
I’m currently on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney. I’m sorry to say me and my group have experienced they worse service due to a overly aggressive flight attendant…
I don’t want to believe she racist. But she has clearly aimed all her frustrations only at the people of colour.
In a series of subsequent tweets, will.i.am went on to name the flight attendant in question, and shared a photograph of her and an Australian police officer.
Other passengers have backed up will.i.am’s version of events, with one woman describing the flight attendant’s conduct as ‘appalling’.
However, the decision to share the flight attendant’s name has heavily criticised by some, many of whom have argued will.i.am has allowed the woman to become a target for abuse.
In response to this, the singer said:
I don’t regret my actions of taking to public to speak for the other for those who don’t have the voice who felt the same disrespect… I am saddened that People chose to spread hate and attack… there were other people on the flight were disrespected.
Qantas initially released a statement describing the incident as a ‘misunderstanding’:
There was a misunderstanding on board, which seems to have been exacerbated by will.i.am wearing noise cancelling headphones and not being able to hear instructions from crew,
We’ll be following up with will.i.am and wish him well for the rest of the tour.
However, on Monday, November 18, a spokesperson said Qantas would be willing to support legal action against will.i.am:
Absent a retraction, and if the crew member wanted to take the matter further, we’d certainly be willing to provide legal support for them to do this.
Australia is known for having very strict defamation laws, with courts regularly ruling in favour of those who claim reputational damage.
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