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Racism

An American Airlines passenger said police were called on her ‘for flying while fat & black’

A woman sitting next to Amber Phillips allegedly spent much of the flight complaining about the amount of space she was taking up and instructed a flight attendant to call the police

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 May, 2018, 10:43am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 May, 2018, 11:01am

By Mark Matousek

American Airlines passenger Amber J. Phillips recounted a flight on which police “were called on me for flying while fat & Black” in a Twitter thread last week.

Phillips was on flight 5580, which was operated by PSA Airlines, from Raleigh-Durham to Washington D.C. on Thursday. The woman sitting next to her allegedly spent much of the flight complaining about the amount of space Phillips was taking up.

“This white woman literally spent the entire 45 minute flight making an active scene bc my arm was touching hers. Loudly asking if I could ‘move over’ on a plane so small everyone’s carry-on bags had to be valeted. It was awful!” Phillips wrote.

Near the end of the flight, Phillips wrote that the woman sitting next to her “was able to sit back comfortably without touching me,” after putting her tray table up.

Phillips was pulled off a shuttle bus to talk to police

Phillips took a video of herself and her seatmate to document the incident. After leaving the aircraft, Phillips said she was pulled off a shuttle bus after the woman instructed a flight attendant to call the police.

“While I’m on the shuttle, this woman LIED that I assaulted her and the @AmericanAir flight attendant called the cops to remove me from the shuttle bus,” Phillips wrote.

“She knew she was wrong. She knew I was going to hold her accountable with my pictures and that’s when she decided to pair up with the white @AmericanAir flight attendant to call the cops on me after I was already off the plane and on the shuttle to go home.”

Phillips wrote that she asked another passenger on the shuttle to take her number and record her interaction with the police if she was harmed. According to Phillips, the first police officer who interacted with her was rude.

“He asked for my ID. As I looking for my ID, I asked if he asked for the other woman’s ID,” she wrote. “He aggressively responded to me by saying ‘I’m not dealing with your abuse! Give me your ID!’ I handed him my passport and he yanked it out of my hand.”

“I then asked, ‘Would you like to know what happened?’ Aggressive again he said ‘NO! I’m investigating this as an assault!’ I very calmly said ‘Wow, ok.’ I backed up and made sure my hands were visible which upset the officer as well and he called in for an additional cop, yall!!!”

No charges were filed against Phillips or her seatmate

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police told Business Insider that no charges were filed against Phillips or her seatmate. The agency gave the following statement:

“At approximately 8:05pm on April 26, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police responded to a request for assistance from an American Airlines flight attendant on American Eagle flight 5580. Assistance was requested following an in-flight incident involving two passengers, which continued on an American Airlines shuttle bus at Reagan National Airport. Upon arrival on the scene, Airports Authority police asked both passengers to exit the shuttle to protect their privacy and to allow for an investigation. Both passengers complied with police requests and it was determined that there was no immediate threat to passenger safety. There were no arrests, no charges were filed and both passengers continued on their way.”

American Airlines told Business Insider “two passengers seated next to each other engaged in a verbal altercation” on Flight 5580. An airline representative said “one of the passengers requested the flight attendant contact law enforcement” after the flight landed.

The NAACP had previously issued a travel warning for American Airlines

In October, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) issued a national travel-advisory warning to African-Americans about flying on American Airlines because of “a pattern of disturbing incidents.”

“The series of recent incidents involve troublesome conduct by American Airlines and they suggest a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias on the part of American Airlines,” the organisation wrote.

After the warning was announced, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker responded in a memo to employees.

“The mission statement of the NAACP states that it seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination,” Parker said. “That’s a mission that the people of American Airlines endorse and facilitate every day — we do not and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”

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Read the original article at Business Insider