The TSA Is Supposed To Be Protecting Air Travel But Some Workers Decided To Intimidate Co-Workers With Racist Displays Instead
On Tuesday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it had suspended two TSA officers for allegedly putting up a noose in a baggage screening area at Miami International Airport. The two officers that were suspended had put up an “offensive display” and the incident is now under investigation.
According to NBC News, the “offensive display” consisted of a noose hanging from the ceiling with two stuffed monkeys attached. The photo of the display had allegedly been posted on Instagram with the caption: “Black People of the Gram.”
The incident happened on July 21. In a CNN exclusive, the publication reports that a TSA employee with knowledge of the situation said that the display was hanging from a “pole right in the center of the TSA workstation located underneath the airport where passengers’ checked luggage is screened before placed on aircraft.”
Consequently, when other TSA employees caught a glimpse of the display, managers were notified. But according to one TSA employee, the manager didn’t act rapidly to address the situation.
In fact, the TSA employee tells CNN that, the manager “tried to downplay the noose and gorilla display, saying it wasn’t racist, it was just a joke.”
However, the TSA employees who reported this to their manager became even more upset after their concerns were ignored and downplayed. This then prompted the agency to launch an internal investigation. The two TSA officers who are allegedly guilty of building the display have been placed on administrative leave, with pay.
Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez of Miami, Florida took to Twitter to address the incident as well. He tweeted that he was “aware of the offensive item found in TSA baggage area at MIA and pleased TSA took quick action to identify those responsible and place them on leave.”
The Miami International Airport Twitter account also spoke out about the incident saying they “do not condone offensive behavior or material of any kind.”
Although Miami International Airport sent out this tweet addressing the issue, they declined to comment to media outlets, according to CNBC.
Twitter users who replied to both the mayor and the Miami International Airport account called for them to fire the TSA officers responsible for the display, “suspending is not enough punishment.”
TSA also released a statement that echoed the sentiments of the airport and the mayor. “TSA does not tolerate racist or offensive behavior and those found responsible will be held accountable for their actions. Two TSA officers have been placed on administrative leave while the investigation is ongoing.”
According to CNBC, this isn’t the first time we’ve read reports from workers about workplace racial harassment. Back in June, a black employee in South Carolina “sued the company saying it retaliated against him after he reported a noose hanging near his desk and that other employees urinated on his desk and chair.” In March, nearly two dozen UPS workers said they discovered a noose in their workplace.
Despite the alleged actions begin taken at the Miami International Airport to address the racist incident, many TSA officers are reportedly feeling “distraught” about it.
CNN spoke to a veteran Miami TSA officer, who chose to remain anonymous, about the incident. The veteran TSA officer said he was “upset about the incident, which he says has many of Miami International Airport’s black and Hispanic TSA officers distraught.”
“The mood now at the airport is people are upset this hasn’t been properly taken care of yet. We want everybody held accountable for what they have done,” the same officer told the publication.
In internal emails that CNN obtained, they found that the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security sent a letter to TSA on Tuesday and urged them to make sure the incident was handled promptly and thoroughly investigated. They also strongly urged TSA to have those “involved held accountable for their actions.”
Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson also spoke out about the incident at Miami International Airport saying that it’s unacceptable that those in charge of TSA didn’t take the incident seriously and that it leaves “TSOs to work in an environment where they believe they are not supported or protected.”
TSA’s acting deputy administrator Patricia Cogswell also wrote an email, obtained by CNN, to other TSA officials and said that “given the number of emails and such coming in to HQ about the MIA situation, please pull together a message for SO (senior officers) to issue, and think about other information that should go out to all offices.”
Other administrators for security operations addressed the “troubling event” that “cuts at the very core of who we are and what we stand for as an agency.”
The TSA officers involved in the offensive display have not been named or identified.