Speaking out about the alleged incident, which occurred on a Qantas flight, the musician claimed in a series of Tweets that he had been targeted by an “overly aggressive” attendant, before posting a photo that appeared to show a police officer waiting for him upon landing.
“This is how your [sic] greeted when you land from Brisbane to Sydney flying @qantas with a #RacistFlightattendant,” he wrote, calling the flight attendant out by name. He went on to claim that the employee singled out “every” person of color onboard.
In a statement to PEOPLE, a spokesperson for the airline says they “completely reject the suggestion this had anything to do with race.”
I’m currently on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney.— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019
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
No one said she was a white supremest... I said she singled every person of colourbin the flight and gave them a hard time...and went to the extreme of calling the police on me when I did nothing wrong...other passengers on the flight agreed that she was out of hand... https://t.co/fyh6DUb9F8— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019
Will.i.am claimed that police were called because he was wearing a pair of noise-canceling headphones on the flight and “couldn’t hear the P.A.,” but denied that the alleged incident occurred during the safety warning at the beginning of the flight.
He went on to claim that after the flight attendant asked him to he put his laptop away he “quickly & politely” acquiesced.
“Is callin the police on a passenger for not hearing he P.A due to wearing noise canceling headphones appropriate? If didn’t put away my laptop ‘in a rapid 2min time’ I’d understand. I did comply quickly & politely, only to be greeted by police. I think I was targeted,” he wrote.
In response to a Twitter user who criticized will.i.am’s decision to name the flight attendant, the musician stood by his decision to speak up, but urged others to “not send Hate” towards the Qantas employee.
“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,” he wrote.
“Twitter is the people’s tool…rich and poor…a tool to use when things go wrong…it allows people can FEEL directly from the people that have FEELINGS,” he added. “Today I FELT discrimination…and I spoke for all the other people who are voiceless.”
Making one last post of the night, he shared a fan video from the Black Eyes Peas performance, which took place Saturday evening local time. “@iamwill you certainly delivered tonight in Sydney… we’re all humans, Regardless of our race,” the post read.
“Upon landing in Sydney the police had a chat with will.i.am at top of the jet bridge-they declined to pursue it further,” a rep for the musician tells PEOPLE. “He and the band will be flying on another airline as they wrap up their tour of Australia and New Zealand.”
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 https://t.co/IUy0hvETso https://t.co/V41bexQHjU— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019
Have a goodnight...Twitter is the people’s tool...rich and poor...a tool to use when things go wrong...it allows people can FEEL directly from the people that have FEELINGS...today I FELT discrimination...and I spoke for all the other people who are voiceless https://t.co/mZnXmVp0CT— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019
Qantas has denied that the incident was racially motivated.
“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,” a Qantas spokesperson tells PEOPLE in a statement.
“We completely reject the suggestion this had anything to do with race,” the spokesperson adds. “We’ll be following up with will.i.am and wish him well for the rest of the tour.”