Kamaiyah Arrested at Airport Over Refusal to Remove Head Cover

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Oakland rapper Kamaiyah gives students at Hayward High School tickets to meet her for a screening of 'Black Panther.' (Estefany Gonzalez/KQED)

State troopers arrested Oakland rapper Kamaiyah at a Connecticut airport Friday morning after she refused to remove her head cover, according to reports.

Authorities charged the 26-year-old performer with interfering with police and second-degree breach of peace after she reportedly became "aggressive" when she refused a TSA agent's request to remove her head cover. The cover had set off an alarm at Bradley International Airport's security checkpoint, but Kamaiyah did not allow the cover to be inspected.

"She was advised unless she did as she was told by TSA, she would not be allowed to proceed through security and not allowed to fly," a police report on the incident said.

The rapper, whose legal name is Kamaiyah Johnson, also ignored authorities' request to leave the airport and directed "vulgar language" at the TSA agent and trooper on the scene. Law enforcement then took her into custody, and she was released after she posted bond.

Johnson tweeted about the incident, but deleted the tweets not long after, according to reports.


"Jessie bailed me out I’m not about to let them ruin my day we’re driving to NYC to fly out of there," she tweeted.

The incident comes just weeks after Cosmopolitan magazine ran a feature on how TSA agents continue to search the hair of African-American women, despite the agency's promises to stop the practice in 2015. The agreement came about after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California filed a report showing that the TSA unfairly targeted African-American women for pat-downs because of their hairstyles.

Wraps and covers are often used by black women to preserve their hairstyles, which can be expensive and time-consuming to maintain.

Johnson came into fame in 2015 thanks to her hit single, "How Does It Feel," which was ranked as one of the year's best songs by Pitchfork and NPR. She performs this Sunday at the Blurry Vision Festival in Oakland.

She's also required to appear in court on June 6.