Women's March on Washington Co-Chair Tamika Mallory said her "humiliating" experience with American Airlines would help other people of color get their voices heard - and that's exactly what has happened, with CNN's Symone Sanders and a mother from Boston sharing their own stories of alleged mistreatment from the airline.
Sanders, a political commentator for CNN, took to Instagram to share her story.
"I'm here to say it happened to me too on American Airlines," Sanders said. "A couple months ago, after a verbal exchange with an American Airlines agent, they called the police, they sent six different police officers to attempt to remove me from the airport, flying from LAX to DCA. Never got on the plane that night.
"It happened to me too on American Airlines, I stand with Tamika. We've got to stop this, y'all."
Briana Williams, a mother and a Harvard Law student, also spoke to the New York Daily News to say that she was also intimidated by the airlines. She said that in August, she and her 4-month-old baby were kicked off of a flight to New York when she asked for her stroller back during a long delay.
Williams was scheduled to fly from Atlanta to NYC, where she would visit family in Brooklyn and Queens. But as a result of getting kicked off of the plane, she and her baby had to spend the night at the airport before catching a flight the following morning.
Sanders and Williams spoke out after this past Sunday, Oct. 15, when activist Tamika Mallory was kicked off of a plane she was scheduled to fly in after leaving the Revolt Music Conference in Miami.
Mallory, a member of American Airlines' platinum club, used an airport kiosk to upgrade her middle seat to an aisle seat. She told REVOLT TV that she avoids middle seats on planes because she has claustrophobia.
But when she got to the gate for her flight, the gate agent printed a ticket that didn't honor her new seating arrangement. Mallory and the agent got into a dispute in which the agent, Mallory says, was "rude" and "disrespectful." Mallory decided to just write down her complaint to file later, and she was allowed on the flight.
After her exchange, Mallory says a pilot from the flight came down to reprimand her, and repeatedly asked if she knew how to "behave," and if she would be a problem on the flight. Mallory said she would simply write her complaint down, and the pilot, according to Mallory, said, "'You're going to get yourself a one-way ticket off this plane.'"
"I stood there and accepted that, knowing that I had been taught my entire life, as a freedom fighter, that no man should be asking me if I can behave," a tearful Mallory said during a press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 17. "... I had to basically tell massa that I was not going to be a runaway slave, and I went to my seat and I sat down and I was quiet for over 15 minutes."
She was allowed on the flight, where she says she sat peacefully for 15 minutes before being called back to the front of the plane, where the pilot pointed her out and kicked her off the flight. Mallory then angrily cursed out the pilot before exiting the plane, and has since accused the pilot's actions as an "act of white male aggression." A white passenger offered to give her his seat, but he was ignored. Rapper/activist Mysonne, who was traveling with Mallory, was also booted from the plane, despite doing nothing but silently standing by Mallory.
As a result of the missed flight, Mallory missed the wedding of Al Sharpton's daughter, who she has known for 25 years.
According to The Coueur d'Alene Press, a spokesman for American Airlines said that they apologized for the mishandling of getting Mallory her new seat, but that the company "does not tolerate discrimination of any kind," and that Mallory was kicked off the flight to "de-escalate a situation onboard the aircraft." Mallory disagrees with the idea of her exit being an issue of de-escalation, since she says she had been peacefully seated for 15 minutes before she was kicked off the flight.
Mallory has made three demands: an in-person meeting with senior level management at American Airlines, an apology for what happened, and policy changes that protect other people of color from what she described as a "humiliating" experience. Four days after the incident, while she has spoken to lower level customer reps, her other requests have been seemingly ignored.