The Case of Richard Gere and the FBI

Two Black Comedians Sue Police Over Search at Atlanta Airport

This is a bit of a strange story. On the one hand, it is a story that has all of the elements of an old-fashioned Hollywood thriller movie: a rich white police officer (Richard Gere) desperately in search of the son of his old friend (Natalie Wood). And the other hand, it is also a story that is almost identical to the tale of the rich black businessman (Sylvester Stallone) who sued the Atlanta police for searching his car.

Here’s how it plays out. On the morning of June 1, the Atlanta Police Department went to the airport to pick up a man being held at the airport who had been reported by his estranged wife to be intoxicated. He had been there for two and a half hours and had drunk a lot of coffee, and all of them had been refused service. The cop in charge of the airport told the police that the black man had been there since four o’clock. He had been refused service three times, and had then demanded that the cops open the luggage and help him search through it for his wallet. This was just a routine request under the airport’s “request for information” regulation.

The cop in charge of the airport did not find a valid reason for the airport to have given anyone a ticket, but the police did find a wallet in the man’s luggage. The cop took it into the office for his paperwork, then had another officer take the man to a room in the airport where they could watch him drink coffee in peace. He did not have any warrants, he was not in possession of a weapon, there was nothing the officers could seize from the cabin of his airplane, and he was not on the flight plan. After a couple of hours the cops took the wallet of the man they’d arrested and they dropped him at the jail, after spending what the cop called “an obscene amount of time.”

That night, it appears that Richard Gere and his co-producer, Stephen Schafer, decided to take a little vacation to Atlanta and check out the apartment house where they’d seen Stallone’s neighbor. This

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