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White mother says she and her mixed-race daughter were racially profiled when Southwest Airlines worker suspected child of being trafficked and called cops: Lawsuit

  A white mother is claiming in a lawsuit that she and her mixed-race, 10-year-old daughter were racially profiled when a Southwest Airlines...

 A white mother is claiming in a lawsuit that she and her mixed-race, 10-year-old daughter were racially profiled when a Southwest Airlines worker called police after suspecting her child of being trafficked, Newsweek reported.

What are the details?

Mary MacCarthy filed the suit Thursday in Colorado and said Denver police were called after she and her daughter arrived at Denver International Airport from California on October 22, 2021, the magazine reported

While police soon let the pair go, the lawsuit says the ordeal caused "extreme emotional distress" and is asking for economic damages, compensatory damages, as well as punitive and exemplary damages, according to Newsweek.

The suit also says the incident was particularly difficult for the mother and daughter given that they were flying to Denver for a funeral after the sudden death of MacCarthy's brother, Newsweek also reported, adding that MacCarthy's daughter began to cry when approached by police.

"To this day, when Moira and I are out in public — and especially at airports or on planes — I'm hyperaware that we might be judged and reported for any interaction we have with each other," McCarthy, who lives in Los Angeles, told the magazine Friday. "It's a strange feeling to be on alert about your most basic behaviors with your child, and it's exhausting. As for Moira [who is now 12], she still clams up and doesn't want to talk about what happened." 

David Lane, MacCarthy's attorney, told Newsweek the lawsuit is meant to hold Southwest accountable and compel the airline to reexamine training and policies.

"In using racial profiling to cause the Denver police to stop innocent travelers, Southwest Airlines has attempted to address serious the criminal activity of sex-trafficking through use of a stereotypical, easy formula," Lane told the magazine. "Just as the police are constitutionally not permitted to stop-and-frisk young men of color based upon their race, corporate America is similarly not permitted to resort to such profiling to use law enforcement to stop and question racially diverse families simply based upon their divergent races, which is what Southwest did."

Newsweek said a Southwest Airlines spokesperson, in reference to the lawsuit, noted that "we don't have anything to add right now on this pending litigation."

The magazine said Southwest in November 2021 stated it would internally review the incident: "We were disheartened to learn of this mother's account when traveling with her daughter. We are conducting a review of the situation internally, and we will be reaching out to the customer to address her concerns and offer our apologies for her experience traveling with us."

MacCarthy at the time asked for an apology but had not yet received one, Newsweek reported.

The magazine also reported that Southwest said its employees receive "robust training" in regard to human trafficking.

"In our interactions with Southwest Airlines since the incident, and with the information revealed in the bodycam footage, I've felt attacked as a mother and frankly as a human being," MacCarthy said, according to Newsweek. "Customers should know the true nature of the company they're doing business with."

Here's a video report about the incident that aired shortly after it occurred:

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