Southwest Airlines In Court Over 2022 Arrest Of Mismatched Mourners.

Phot credit: Newsweek. Mother and daughter Mary and Moira MacCarthy in August 2023, in Lakewood, Colorado. MacCarthy, a mother who believes she and her daughter were racially profiled by a Southwest Airlines employee, has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the airline.
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Mary MacCarthy and her 10-year-old were already in mourning for a trip from California to Colorado i October 2022, because they were going to the funeral of MacCarthy’s brother. But their day got even worse after flying Southwest Airlines and being arrested on landing,  reports NPR News.

After the two boarded the plane to Denver in October 2021, according to a federal lawsuit filed Thursday, a Southwest flight attendant alerted the Denver Police Department that MacCarthy may be a child trafficker.

The employee’s alleged explanation was that the skin color of MacCarthy and her daughter did not match.

The flight attendant never spoke to MacCarthy or her daughter during the flight, according to the civil complaint.

Soon after landing at the Denver International Airport, MacCarthy, who is white, was interrogated by two armed police officers while her daughter, who is Black, sobbed in fear and confusion. The two were let go, after MacCarthy showed her ID card and explained her reason for traveling.

MacCarthy and her daughter sued Southwest Airlines in the District Court of Colorado, accusing the airline company of racial discrimination against her mixed-race family and for causing a traumatic incident that still affects daughter two years later.

The lawsuit alleges that “this display of blatant racism by Southwest Airlines caused Ms. MacCarthy and her daughter extreme emotional

The lawsuit alleges that “this display of blatant racism by Southwest Airlines caused Ms. MacCarthy and her daughter extreme emotional

The complaint also said that Southwest has a history of racial profiling mixed-raced familes.

In January 2021, flight attendants pulled Luca Guerreri, a white man traveling with his Black daughter, off of a Southwest plane after suspecting him of human trafficking. Guerreri later sent a complaint to the airline, according to the suit.

MacCarthy and her daughter allege that the airlines have failed to take steps to “correct the racist assumptions of its employees make about mixed-race families traveling together,” the suit said.

“To this day, when Moira and I are out in public — and especially at airports or on planes — I’m hyperaware that we might be judged and reported for any interaction we have with each other,” McCarthy, who lives in Los Angeles, told Newsweek Friday. “It’s a strange feeling to be on alert about your most basic behaviors with your child, and it’s exhausting.

David Lane, MacCarthy’s attorney, told Newsweek the lawsuit is meant to hold Southwest accountable and compel the airline to reexamine training and policies.

“In using racial profiling to cause the Denver police to stop innocent travelers, Southwest Airlines has attempted to address serious the criminal activity of sex-trafficking through use of a stereotypical, easy formula,” Lane told the magazine. ”

Just as the police are constitutionally not permitted to stop-and-frisk young men of color based upon their race, corporate America is similarly not permitted to resort to such profiling to use law enforcement to stop and question racially diverse families simply based upon their divergent races, which is what Southwest did.”

MacCarthy at the time asked for an apology but had not yet received one, Newsweek reported.

The magazine also reported that Southwest said its employees receive “robust training” in regard to human trafficking.

Southwest declined to comment on the ongoing litigation.

Sources: NPR News, Newsweek,
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