A South Florida activist was allegedly removed from a recent American Airlines flight for wearing a face mask with offensive language but is claiming that she was discriminated against because of her race and beliefs.
According to Local 10 News, Arlinda Johns was wearing a mask that said “F*** 12,” an insult referring to law enforcement. Johns complied when asked to cover up the offensive language, putting on a new mask, but said that the flight attendant later returned to her seat.
“She came back and stood over and said, ‘I better not see that other mask,'” she told Local 10 News. “I said, ‘leave me alone, lady.’ She stood there, she said, ‘okay, I got you.'” Minutes later, the plane returned to the gate and Johns was escorted off and out of the airport by several police officers.
“I think I got taken off the plane because I’m black. My mask said ‘[F***] 12’ and my shirt said, ‘Black Lives Matter,'” said Johns. “I am an abolitionist. I believe that we need to defund and abolish the police.”
The airline has denied that the incident was about race, with a spokesperson for American stating that the plane was turned around “after [Johns] refused to follow crew member instructions to remove or cover a face mask with offensive language. [A]lthough [Johns] initially complied, [she] later continued to display the inappropriate language. After arriving at the gate, the passenger was asked to deplane.”
American said that it’s looking into the incident and is refunding the “unused portion” of Johns’ ticket.
Johns, who has since spoken with an attorney, said she was forced to rent a car and drive all the way to her destination in Illinois. This isn’t the first time American has been accused of discrimination. In June, several passengers filed a joint racial discrimination lawsuit against the airline over the treatment of an African-American passenger on a flight from Los Angeles to Phoenix.
Airlines have had their hands full since requiring travelers to wear face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic but in most cases, the problems have stemmed from passengers refusing to wear a face-covering.
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