As a society, we may be some ways from the Back to the Future Part II-style hoverboard technology that we were promised. But at least one man is standing up for our right to hover—even when going through customs at the airport.
At Los Angeles International airport, US customs officials handcuffed and forced the rapper Cameron Jibril Thomaz—known as Wiz Khalifa—to the ground, because Khalifa reportedly refused to dismount his “hoverboard.”
The 27-year-old artist, who was returning from a trip to France, posted his account of the incident on his Instagram and Twitter, criticizing the officials’ use of force.
Here’s the video that Khalifa posted to Instagram.
And here are some of the tweets that Khalifa posted after the incident.
Whatever Khalifa was riding, it seems a stretch to call it a hoverboard, as in a board that floats above ground. Judging by pictures in The Guardian, Khalifa’s gadget appears to be similar to the type of hands-free electric scooter produced by MonoRover.
And for all of the talk of the hoverboard revolution, the technology doesn’t seem to be taking off in quite the way that Khalifa’s tweets might have you believe. After the hype in the beginning of the summer, Lexus’s highly-anticipated hoverboard turned out to be an advertising prop. Current hoverboard designs mostly require special floors to be functional (probably not yet installed in US Customs halls).
Quartz has reached out to US Customs and Border Protection but has not heard back. In response to questions about the incident, the agency told USA Today, “CBP officers are conducting their critical national security mission while facilitating the entry of legitimate travelers. An uncompliant passenger or any disruptive behavior could put many at risk in this highly secure area. Privacy laws prevent CBP from discussing specific cases.”