More than two weeks since the incident took place, the traumatized parent is yet to hear from the airline.
Mary MacCarthy of Los Angeles, a white woman, was traveling via Southwest Airlines with her 10-year-old bi-racial daughter Moira to Denver on October 22. They were flying out as they received news that MacCarthy's brother had suddenly passed away. Following a brief stop in San Jose, they boarded another flight to Denver. When they arrived, MacCarthy and her daughter were met on the jetway by two Denver police officers. Someone had reported the duo for "suspicious behavior," and the officers wanted to take her and her daughter in for questioning. The mother, however, only discovered they had been called in on suspicions of human trafficking after receiving a call from the Denver Police human trafficking unit, CNN reports. Southwest Airlines is yet to offer an apology.
Mom, Biracial Child Stopped by Cops After Southwest Employee Suspected Human Trafficking https://t.co/8FK55POmxf— Mary MacCarthy (@MaryMacCarthy) November 4, 2021
After their stopover in San Jose, MacCarthy boarded another Southwest flight with her daughter and realized they would not be able to be seated together. "I asked flight attendants if we could be seated together but they told us we'd each have to take a middle seat," she said. "So with their permission, I asked other passengers if they would kindly move so we could be together, especially as my daughter was grieving, and they did. People are nice." When they landed and walked onto the jetway, they were met with two police officers.
Mixed-race family stopped at Denver airport after Southwest employee suspected human trafficking https://t.co/L1o9nqn3pL— Mary MacCarthy (@MaryMacCarthy) November 4, 2021
MacCarthy shared, "I got quite a shock; having lost my brother the night before, I thought that someone else in my family had died and that police had been sent to deliver the news! As for my daughter, she was terribly frightened: she was already experiencing the trauma of her uncle's death, and she is scared of police due to constant headlines about how police treat Black people (she is Black). She began to sob and was inconsolable." While the officers assured them nothing was wrong, they said they had to call them in for questioning.
Mary MacCarthy says she was questioned by two police officers and a Southwest Airlines employee after flying from San Jose to Denver. She believes she would not have been questioned if her 10-year-old daughter, Moira, was White. https://t.co/4I2NOnTidJ— WJZ | CBS Baltimore (@wjz) November 5, 2021
"They said they were here because my daughter and I were reported for suspicious behavior, acting suspiciously before boarding and while boarding," MacCarthy explained. "I took out my phone and immediately started recording. I told (the officer) who we were and that my daughter was crying because she had lost a family member." As per a report by the Denver police, "Both Mother and child were cleared." The report also noted that a "possible human trafficking [case was] reported by South West flight attendant." However, it was only two weeks after the incident that MacCarthy learned why they were stopped.
A California woman is accusing Southwest Airlines of racial profiling, saying she was accused of human trafficking while traveling with her biracial daughter.https://t.co/a61xQjAwTi— CNN (@CNN) November 8, 2021
She stated, "I got a call from Denver Police human trafficking unit letting me know they were following up on the incident." Thus, the mother has accused Southwest Airlines of racial profiling. "I gave the airline plenty of time to contact me and apologize," MacCarthy said. "Over two weeks later, I've yet to receive anything more than two brief automated responses. The time for an apology is long past." Southwest Airlines spokesperson Dan Landson claimed in a statement that they were "conducting a review of the situation internally." MacCarthy's attorney David Lane affirmed, "Had this been a white child, there would not have been a raised eyebrow."
White Mom Says Southwest Airlines Employee Suspected Her of Trafficking 10-Year-Old Black Daughter https://t.co/4gS6gy15v5 - Mary MacCarthy revealed she was caught off guard when a Southwest Airlines employee and two police officers were waiting for the pair on the jet bridge— Product Concerns | Safe Products (@ProductConcerns) November 9, 2021