Woman Wearing a Black Lives Matter T-Shirt Removed From American Airlines Flight

Woman Wearing a Black Lives Matter T-Shirt Removed From American Airlines Flight

There have been instances where people have been removed from flights, but this latest instance has some people wondering about the airline’s motives. Poet Imani Cezanne recently tweeted an account of an incident in which she claims she was escorted off an American Airlines flight from Charlotte, S.C., to North Carolina after a flight attendant said she “felt threatened” by Cezanne’s presence. Cezanne, a Black Lives Matter supporter, boarded the flight wearing a T-shirt with the names of just a few of the several unarmed black men who have been killed by police and others over the years, including Eric Garner, Amadou Diallo, Emmett Till, and more.

According to Cezanne, she took her seat on the flight, and one of the attendants asked a non-English-speaking couple sitting across from her to move from the exit row. Cezanne inquired as to why they were relocated, and the attendant explained that “if she is unable to explain procedure, she must seat someone else in the exit row.” Cezanne said she understood the policy after it was explained to her, but then, as she was talking about her concerns to the woman sitting next to her, the flight attendant got hostile.

“I was escorted off of a plane by two armed caucasian male officers,” she tweeted. “I have never believed so strongly that I could die at any moment.” Cezanne explained that after the incident, she was banned from American Airlines and could not leave Charlotte, as she didn’t have the money to pay for a new ticket to take her to another destination. Cezanne hypothesizes that her T-shirt likely had something to do with her removal. Granted, we only really know her side of the story, but people complain and act like jerks on flights all the time. Some people are downright disruptive. But if whining to your neighbor is enough for an attendant to feel threatened, we wonder how many other disgruntled passengers have been ejected from flights just for complaining to other passengers. Should American Airlines flight attendants be so sensitive that any criticism is taken as a threat? Is American Airlines such a fascist entity that passengers are not allowed to voice discontent?

But what is most troubling here is the claim that the flight attendant “felt threatened.” For some, that phrase can be extremely triggering. As Cezanne tweeted, “This is how you can literally be walking away from an officer and be shot dead,” she tweeted. “Because he ‘felt threatened.’”

American Airlines tweeted back to Cezanne saying, “Our crew is expected to always provide a friendly and professional service.” Cezanne said she spoke with an American Airlines rep, who said they couldn’t do anything about the situation. A spokesperson for American Airlines said, “An unruly passenger was removed from American Eagle Flight 5192, operated by PSA Airlines, from Charlotte to Atlanta due to failure to comply with crew member instructions. The passenger refused to exit aircraft when asked, so local law enforcement was called. We will work with the customer to resolve the issue. American Airlines values diversity, and we do not discriminate for any reason.”

American Airlines is currently in the middle of another discrimination lawsuit, so this comes at quite an inopportune time for the airline.

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