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Air Marshals Claim Supervisor Made Them Target Black Folks; Congress Calls for Investigation

Members of Congress are requesting Inspector General John Kelly to investigate the Federal Air Marshal Service after employees claimed they were asked to target Black passengers.

Steve Theodoropoulos, Henry Preston and Ed Cunningham are all former air marshals who spoke to Fox 46 and said they were told by their supervisor to racially profile African American travelers. The three air marshals worked at Orlando International Airport in Florida and claimed racist remarks made by the director were between 2005 and 2010.

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“He told us stop and talk to the Black people. Get the Black people because they’ve got the warrants,” Theodoropoulos told the new station. “But he didn’t use ‘the Black people,’ he used the n-word and we were taken by that. In this day and time what…supervisor would indicate that? But that’s what they wanted to do. It was number driven. You’re stopping and talking to people based on color because they’re Black they possibly have more warrants than other types of people and that’s what we were told.”

The other two former air marshals concurred Theodoropoulos story and said they heard their former supervisor use racial language.

Three members of the House Committee on Homeland Security including U.S. Rep. Val Demings wrote a letter to General Kelly asking him to probe into the allegations.

“The allegations are extremely troubling, especially given the history of allegations regarding misconduct, discrimination, and retaliation within the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS),” the letter read. “We have long been concerned that the policies of the TSA, which oversees the FAMS, open the door to racial profiling and other forms of discrimination. … For the TSA to earn the trust of the American public, non-discriminational policies must be fully enforced, allegations of misconduct must be fully investigated, and substantiated misconduct must be remedied by corrective action.”

Congress hopes to learn if there were any Black travelers who were discriminated against during the listed years or if the targeting continues.

The supervisor who allegedly made the derogatory remarks currently works as a TSA manager at Sanford International Airport. However, TSA said the employee is not under investigation and there is no proof of the allegations. They also say the accused did not have any authority over the men making the allegations.

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