New York Activist Tamika Mallory Booted From Flight, Alleges Racial Discrimination

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Tamika Mallory
Tamika Mallory said a pilot inserted himself into a dispute she had with a gate agent over her seat. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images)

New York activist Tamika Mallory claims she was discriminated against after a pilot booted her from an American Airlines flight in Miami following a dustup over her seat assignment.

Mallory, a co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington, was traveling home to New York Sunday, Oct. 15, when the pilot scolded her for an argument she’d had with a gate agent a few moments earlier, the New York Daily News reported.

“It definitely was white male aggression,” she said. “I was singled out, I was disrespected, and he was trying to intimidate me. I was discriminated against.”

The activist said she arrived at Miami International Airport and used a kiosk to changer her ticket from a middle seat to an aisle seat. When she got to the gate, however, Mallory said she was given a new ticket that put her back in the middle seat. She asked the gate agent why and said the employee gave her a “nasty” and “disrespectful” response.

Her problems weren’t over just yet, though. A pilot who overheard the tail end of  her exchange with the agent stopped her and accused her of being disrespectful, saying the airline employee had nothing to do with the mix-up over her seat, the newspaper reported.

“Then he said to me, ‘Can you get on this flight? Are you going to be a problem on this flight?’ Mallory said. “I said ‘No, I’m not. Actually, I’m fine. But I will write my complaint down. He looked at me and said, ‘You are going to get yourself a one-way ticket off this plane.’ ”

Mallory boarded the plane and settled into her middle seat shortly afterward, but not long before she was summoned to the front aircraft and subsequently kicked off. She said the pilot gestured at her and said, “Her, off,” before two officers arrived to remove her.

“I began to express my outrage,” Mallory said. “Then I asked why I was being removed. I asked why was this happening to me. I told him I felt completely disrespected. I began to weep.”

She was never given an explanation. Mallory’s son who was traveling with at the time was also removed from the plane.

In a statement, American Airlines spokesman Joshua Free disputed Mallory’s claims of targeted discrimination.

“Our team does not tolerate discrimination of any kind,” Freed said. “We take these allegations seriously, and we are in the process of reaching out to our colleagues in Miami, as well as Ms. Mallory, to obtain additional information on what transpired during the boarding process.”

This isn’t the first time the airline has been accused of blatant racism. Last year, North Carolina NAACP leader Rev. William Barber filed a discrimination suit after he was also kicked off a flight. The airline also faced backlash when it called the police on African- American political commentator Symone D. Sanders when she raised her voice at a customer service staffer out of frustration.

Mallory, who was visiting Miami for the Revolt Music Conference and wound up missing the wedding of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s daughter that afternoon, took to social media to express her outrage over the incident.

“They will not get away with throwing me off of that plane today,” she said in a tearful Facebook live video. “Cuz I didn’t do a God damn thing to deserve it.”

Mallory also tweeted Sunday night, accusing American Airlines of being racist.

Mallory said her lawyer is now involved.

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