Imagine returning from vacation with your granddaughter only to be treated like a criminal thanks to a nosy passenger and a reactionary police officer.
Last year I wrote about a man who was falsely accused of human trafficking on a United Airlines flight, ostensibly because he had dark skin and his baby had light skin. Earlier this week, another incident occurred, this time on Southwest Airlines.
A man (62) and his partner (52) were traveling from Baltimore to New Orleans on July 15th with their granddaughter, who they have legal custody over and are raising.
During the flight, a man sitting behind them began asking a series of questions about their granddaughter. Where was she from? Where does she go to school? What grade is she in? Sadly, this was not just small talk. Shortly thereafter, he walked to the back of plane, returning a few minutes later to his seat. Turns out he had not used the lavatory…
When the plane landed in New Orleans, the man behind them was asked to move to a bulkhead seat and wait. When the three stepped off, they were met by three Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Deputies. They were asked to stop at the end of the jet bridge. When asked what was wrong, the officers refused to explain.
Detention After Landing
One man was separated from his partner and granddaughter. The sheriffs were skeptical about the relationship between the three. The man explained that he and his partner had custody of his granddaughter and had been taking care of her since she was seven weeks old. The sheriff responded that someone had tipped them off to potential human trafficking and asked for ID plus paperwork demonstrating the couple had custody of the girl.
As it turns out, perhaps in fear of precisely this kind of incident, both men had two forms of ID (passport and Global Entry card) and also had the custody paperwork. The three were returning from vacation in Canada.
But that wasn’t enough. Despite having IDs with matching addresses and paperwork which appeared to be in order, the sheriff’s treated the men as guilty until proven innocent, refusing to return their ID and barking at them to wait until a supervisor arrived.
The supervisor arrived, separated the men from their granddaughter, called one of the men “boy” for asking why he was being detained, and threatened to detain them if either one said another word. He added he would not let them go until a background check was performed. In case you are wondering, the couple is white, not black.
A half hour passed, the supervisor returned, handed the IDs back, and walked away. No apology or even explanation for the way they had been treated.
The family is now afraid to get on another flight. They were returning from a trip to Canada and had experienced no problems at the Canadian or U.S. border.
Please Encourage This Family To Go On The Record
I want this couple to go on the record with their names. I have a family picture and the names, which I am not publishing out of respect for their wishes. But stories like this need to be told.
Can we say for certain it was because they were not young parents or because they were homosexual? Well, it has to be one of the two or both, doesn’t it? Because no one would ever stop my wife and me with little Augustine. And in either case such suspicion was not justified.
Are Southwest flight attendants so timid that they cannot show a little discernment before reporting a family to the police?
In this political climate, many feel emboldened to resist change. But there is a great dignity deficit in this country that seems to be worsening. No matter your views on what a proper family should resemble or the definition of marriage, all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. All people should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. And we must always treat others the way we would want to be treated.
No one should live in fear of man because of their sexual orientation.
Please leave a comment below and encourage this couple to go on the record. More people need to hear their story.
image: Tomás Del Coro / Wikimedia Commons