Pretty Yende was detained by French authorities, strip searched and held in a dark room at Paris’ main airport after arriving this week for a starring role at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees.
She was subjected to “ill-treatment and outrageous racial discrimination and psychological torture and very offensive racial comments.” Airport police confiscated her belongings, including her cell phone and took her to a “retention cell” in the airport.
She told an officer her phone battery was dying and asked if she could borrow a charger. The officer told her, ”Listen to me carefully, you will not have your phone,” and told her that she was a prisoner.
The experience was traumatizing and scary for her “Police brutality is real for someone who looks like me,”
Yende thanked fans and fellow singers for an outpouring of support and outrage on social media. She said she was not “brutally interrogated and physically tortured like many” but she felt thankful to be alive.
A French official said that Yende was questioned by police because she held a South African passport and did not have a French visa to enter the country. She was questioned from about 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. before being released. After a verification process, Yende “received a visa regularizing her situation. She thanked the police officers when she was allowed to leave,” he said. The official said it was standard to strip search someone who is held because of improper paperwork.