The ACLU of Ohio filed a brief Wednesday in support of Afroman after the rapper was sued by a sheriff’s department when he turned footage of their botched raid on his home into his latest music video.
In March, seven members of the Adams County Sheriff’s Office filed a lawsuit against the weed-loving rapper, born Joseph Foreman, for invasion of privacy after they unwillingly (but legally) featured in his video for “Will You Help Me Repair My Door?”; the song and video documents an August 2022 raid the sheriff’s department executed on Afroman’s home on a warrant alleging drug trafficking and kidnapping.
Afroman’s home was ransacked, and his front door was destroyed in the raid, ultimately serving as fodder for the rapper’s recent music. Unfortunately, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office lacked a sense of humor and filed the lawsuit against Afroman, which the ACLU now argues should be dismissed.
“This case is a classic entry into the SLAPP suit genre: a meritless effort to use a lawsuit to silence criticism,” the ACLU of Ohio wrote in an amicus brief Wednesday.
“And not just any criticism, but criticism specifically of government actors. Plaintiffs are a group of law enforcement officers who executed what appears to have been a highly destructive and ultimately fruitless search of a popular musician’s home. Now they find themselves at the receiving end of his mockery and outrage, expressed through a series of music videos about the search, as well as spinoff merchandise and social media commentary.”
The ACLU’s brief continued, “It is nothing short of absurd for Plaintiffs to claim that Mr. Foreman has somehow invaded their privacy. By their own account, Plaintiffs are law enforcement officials who were engaged in official business at the time of the search shown in the videos. They were in Mr. Foreman’s home, not their own. Nothing about Mr. Foreman’s expression involves matters of Plaintiffs’ intimate personal privacy that could be protected by law. To the contrary, his description-and criticism-of their police work is a legitimate matter of public concern. Plaintiffs’ claims should be dismissed.”
(In what is either the court’s version of a very good joke or just incredible happenstance, the “Because I Got High” rapper’s first court date on the matter was scheduled for 4/20.)
In an interview with Rolling Stone following news of the sheriff’s department’s lawsuit, Afroman said, “They can tear my door off the hinges, steal my money, disconnect my camera, and now in their lawsuit they’re saying I’m humiliating them. They humiliated me! So I guess I won the humiliation contest.”
The officers are seeking damages in excess of $25,000 on four of the counts listed in the suit, as well as attorneys fees, and a court order that would prohibit Foreman from publishing any other content related to the raid. The rapper said he planned on countersuing.
“The public needs to know,” Afroman added of his decision to “identify” the officers involved. “Because when they keep stuff quiet in little rooms, it might take a crazy turn. But when the public is aware, they go to do something that makes sense.”