Mother with biracial daughter accused of human trafficking on Southwest flight

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – “Southwest Airlines called into Denver police at Denver airport a suspicion of human trafficking involving my daughter and myself as passengers,” Mary MacCarthy said.  

On October 22, Southwest Airlines passenger Mary MacCarthy and her 10-year-old daughter Moira connected in San Jose on the way to MacCarthy’s brother’s funeral in Denver. 

As they exited the plane in Denver, they were detained on the jetway by a Southwest gate agent and two uniformed police officers.

She filmed part of the encounter and her frightened daughter cried in the background but that turns out not to be entirely true.  

A police report she obtained indicates a Southwest flight attendant contacted authorities believing MacCarthy was involved in human trafficking. What was the supposed evidence?

“Their claim we boarded the flight suspiciously late. We allegedly didn’t speak to each other during the flight and I allegedly forbade the flight crew from speaking to my daughter. None of those claims are true,” MacCarthy said. 

MacCarthy says this is nothing more than racial harassment and racial profiling on the part of Southwest Airlines, and she wants them held accountable. 

“We had been profiled for being a white mother with a biracial Black child, I know if I had a daughter that was blonde we would not have to go through this trauma,” MacCarthy said.  

In a statement Southwest Airlines says:

“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. Our Employees undergo robust training on Human Trafficking. Above all, Southwest Airlines prides itself on providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for the millions of customers who travel with us each year.” 

Despite repeated attempts, MacCarthy has not heard directly from Southwest Airlines.  

Now she and her attorney are considering filing a federal civil rights lawsuit.

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