Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain, has been accused of racial profiling after she reported what she thought was a human trafficking incident at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport.
On Monday, McCain — who serves as co-chair of the Arizona Human Trafficking Council — said that she had witnessed a “woman of a different ethnicity” trafficking a child at the airport the week before.
“I came in from a trip I’d been on and I spotted — it looked odd — it was a woman of a different ethnicity than the child, this little toddler she had, and something didn’t click with me,” McCain told local radio station KTAR-FM.
“I went over to the police and told them what I saw, and they went over and questioned her, and, by God, she was trafficking that kid,” she continued, adding that the woman was “waiting for the guy who bought the child to get off an airplane.”
Her interview on KTAR’s Mac & Gaydos included her encouraging listeners to report suspicious behavior: “If you see something, say something.”
But local officials have disputed her claims. On Wednesday, Phoenix police told KTAR-FM that they found “no evidence of criminal conduct or child endangerment” after conducting a welfare check on the child in question.
McCain has since issued an apology for mistaking the situation for trafficking.
At Phoenix Sky Harbor, I reported an incident that I thought was trafficking. I commend the police officers for their diligence. I apologize if anything else I have said on this matter distracts from “if you see something, say something”
— Cindy McCain (@cindymccain) February 7, 2019
The mea culpa, however, is doing little to stem the flood of tweets criticizing McCain for assuming the worst. Many have accused her of racial profiling.
That’s a weird way to say “My ignorant racial profiling led to the harassment of an innocent family and then I lied about it.”
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) February 7, 2019
Which airports do you prefer?
You know, just so my multi-ethnic family knows which ones to avoid.
— AccomplishedTheHat (@Popehat) February 7, 2019
The Queen Bee of Can I Speak to Your Manager?
— David Cagle (@hellomrcagle) February 7, 2019
I wonder what percentage of the "something" in the "if you see something, say something" end up being White?
— William Ingramm (@WilliamIngramm) February 7, 2019
It’s not an apology. It’s a threat. Another white woman using the police to terrorize people of color because she knows she won’t be held accountable.
— Mariam Watt (@MariamWatt) February 7, 2019
I travel through this and other airports. I have three adopted black children including two toddlers.
No one needs Cindy McCain or anyone else policing families of mixed ethnicity.
Phoenix Police dispute Cindy McCain's claim of trafficking at airport https://t.co/xrF90GeRpy
— Doug Stafford (@dougstafford) February 7, 2019
Several critics have noted that like the woman and child she saw at the airport, McCain and her younger daughter, Bridget, are of different ethnicities. Bridget McCain was adopted from Bangladesh in the early 1990s.
The police have already refuted this statement by Cindy McCain and given that she has an adoptive daughter from Bangladesh, I'm actually shocked by her behavior and tweet bragging about her racial profiling. https://t.co/VkTpZG5dAj pic.twitter.com/77W2EqWb9V
— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) February 7, 2019
I can't get over the cindy mccain story. SHE has an adopted daughter of a different race and still found it inconceivable that someone else may not look the same as her kid.
— Sigh Hersh (@Ugarles) February 7, 2019
Wait. Didn't Cindy McCain adopt an orphaned child from Bangladesh?
And now she's claiming another woman "of a different ethnicity" from her child at the airport must be a human trafficker? https://t.co/4Iq30duWlB
— Matthew Chapman (@fawfulfan) February 7, 2019
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