Will Smith says he's been called the n-word by police on many occasions

En esta foto del 6 de enero del 2020, el actor estadounidense Will Smith posa con motivo del estreno de "Bad Boys for Life" en París. (AP Foto/Thibault Camus, Archivo)
Will Smith (AP Foto/Thibault Camus)

Will Smith has spoken about the racial abuse he was subjected to at the hands of the police while growing up in Philadelphia.

The Hollywood icon was discussing the Black Lives Matter movement during an interview with broadcaster Angela Rye.

Appearing on the podcast On One With Angela Rye, he said: “I've been called n****r by the cops in Philly on more than 10 occasions.

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“I got stopped frequently. So I understand what it's like to be in those circumstances with the police.”

Smith went on to discuss how he grew up in Philadelphia when controversial mayor Frank Rizzo was in charge of the city.

Rizzo, a former police officer who was made commissioner in 1968, the year Smith was born, became mayor in 1972. A staunch opponent of desegregation in the city who advised supporters to “vote white”, he was racist in his campaigning and also his policies while in office,

“I grew up under Mayor Rizzo. He went from the chief of police to becoming the mayor, and he had an iron hand,” Smith said.

ST. ANTHONY, MN - JULY 06: Demonstrators march in honor of Philando Castile on July 6, 2020 in St. Anthony, Minnesota. Philando Castile was shot and killed during a traffic stop by Jeronimo Yanez, an officer with the St. Anthony Police Department, four years ago on July 6, 2016. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Demonstrators march in honor of Philando Castile on July 6, 2020 in St. Anthony, Minnesota. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Referring to the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests, Smith went on: “We are in a circumstance that we've never been in before.

“The entire globe has stood up and said to the African American people: 'We see you and we hear you. How can we help?' We've never been there before.”

Smith recently signed up for Emancipation, a slavery drama by Training Day director Anthony Fuqua.

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He is set to play the role of Gordon aka “Whipped Peter”, who escaped from a Louisiana plantation in 1863 and was the subject of a harrowing photograph showing his scars from years of abuse that was used by abolitionists as a glimpse into the horrors of slavery.

After his gruelling journey through the swamps of Louisiana, Gordon joined and fought with the Union army in the US civil war.

Production is due to begin in 2021.