August 12, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michael Curry, NAACP
NAACP CALLS FOR SWIFT, THOROUGH AND TRANSPARENT INVESTIGATION
INTO RACIAL PROFILING ALLEGATIONS
TSA’s Anti-Terrorism Efforts Said to Target Middle Eastern, Black and Hispanic Travelers
BOSTON — The Boston NAACP is calling for a swift, thorough and transparent investigation into complaints by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents that the behavior detection program at Logan International Airport in Boston targets Middle Eastern, Black, Hispanic and other travelers of color. According to reports, over 30 federal officers charged with identifying behaviors that might expose a wood-be terrorist are now accusing the TSA of discriminatory practices. “As is often the story in racial profiling cases, efforts to address a serious public safety concern is undermined by policies or practices that target people of color,” said Michael Curry, President of the Boston NAACP. “How you wear your hat, where you travel, what jewelry you have on your body and the color of your skin, is not proof positive of terrorism or drug trafficking. It is a statistically invalid approach to law enforcement, and weakens our country’s efforts to stop an attack or thwart criminals,” said Curry. He recalls an experience with federal agents in the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport where federal agents abruptly grabbed him, pushed him against a wall and searched him. “They said they had reports of a black man, wearing a Raiders hat coming from Los Angeles, and I was flying in from Boston.” Agents blame the behavior detection program and pressures to reach certain stop and search numbers and to make criminal referrals for the racial profiling practices. The Boston NAACP is attempting to acquire copies of the written complaints filed by the 32 officers, and will request some involvement in reviewing the TSA’s findings and the airport’s corrective action plan. The Boston NAACP has been working over the past two years to raise awareness around racial profiling cases, and urging lawmakers to renew the data collection law for police stops in Massachusetts. “As we see in this case, we need the data to prevent this type of behavior, whether on a street in Roxbury or a terminal at Logan Airport,” said President Curry. “We can’t always rely on internal whistleblowers to reveal racial profiling practices—but we applaud the courage in this case.”
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors. The Boston Branch is the first chartered branch, established in 1911.