The US Airways ticket agent who first gave Deshon Marman guff about wearing saggy pajama pants before he boarded a plane at San Francisco International Airport was black — but that’s not stopping civil rights leaders from saying the airline was racial profiling.
Marman, 20, who is black, was arrested June 15 on allegations of resisting arrest and injuring a cop after he was thrown off a US Airways plane for wearing his pants too low.
The charges have since been dropped against the University of New Mexico football player. Marman’s attorney said his client may sue the airline over how he was treated.
Marman’s supporters say he was targeted for being a young black man. They pointed to the apparent incongruity of US Airways allowing a white man to travel wearing nothing but purple lingerie six days before Marman’s incident.
The Rev. Amos Brown, the leader of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP, said Friday that the ticket agent who first confronted Marman about the sagging pajama pants was a black woman. The ticket agent confronted Marman as he headed through the jetway, Brown said. She then informed a white flight attendant about the confrontation. A white pilot captain later initiated a citizen’s arrest against Marman.
Marman’s defense is that he told airline employees his hands were full and that he would adjust his pants when he found his seat on the flight bound for New Mexico.
Another source close to the matter says a US Airways supervisor involved in the dispute with Marman was also black.
But Brown says just because the airline employees were black doesn’t mean they weren’t discriminating against Marman.
Joe O’Sullivan, Marman’s attorney, said the airline discriminated against a young black man who has dreads and wears hip-hop garb.
“I don’t think they would have discriminated against an African American wearing a business suit,” O’Sullivan said.
US Airways denies discrimination played a role in the confrontation.
“This has always been an issue of a passenger that was disruptive and not following the direction of the flight crew,” spokesman John McDonald said. “And that’s a safety issue.”
O’Sullivan said US Airways can avoid a lawsuit if the airline settles with his client, establishes a policy preventing discrimination against black youth and apologizes.
“If they are adamant about not apologizing, then we’ll have a jury apologize for them,” O’Sullivan said.
Brown said he and Marman’s mother will lead a picket at SFO Monday calling for US Airways to improve its practices.
June 15 Marman arrested for battery on a police officer, resisting arrest and trespassing after the flight crew at SFO threw him off the plane for refusing to pull up his pants.
June 24 Local NAACP and Marman’s mother say US Airways was racist in treatment of Marman given news reports that a white passenger had been allowed to travel six days before in women’s lingerie.
July 12 Outrage erupts on the steps of City Hall as nearly 200 people called for charges to be dropped against Marman. Speakers said while the protest was not meant to endorse low-hanging pants as a fashion choice, they believe Marman was targeted because he is a young black man.
July 13 The San Mateo County District Attorney dropped charges against Marman, saying they aren’t warranted “in light of all the circumstances surrounding this incident.”
July 18 Protest against US Airways planned at San Francisco International Airport.