See something, say something isn’t just for airport security, it’s supposed to stop human trafficking and travel industry employees are asked to speak up when their
prejudices training makes them think something could be amiss. However as Bruce Schneier says, when amateurs do security you get amateur security.
An African American social service worker is suing American Airlines after she was accused of kidnapping a one year old white baby while traveling with him on a flight.
Reportedly a passenger on board a flight from Dallas Fort Worth to Ontario, California told a flight attendant that the woman was “holding a kidnap victim.” In fact she was returning from a two week court-ordered visit for the child with his father.
Though the boy was light-skinned and blond, he was mistaken for an alleged missing child from New York City who was 5 years old and Hispanic with dark hair, according to the lawsuit. Airline employees took the boy from Murphy’s arms and threatened her with force if she didn’t comply, the lawsuit read.
Murphy, who had an ID, the boy’s birth certificate and a court order, was detained for about an hour before being allowed to re-board the plane and the flight was held up for about 45 minutes, the lawsuit read.
It’s not that long ago that armed Port Authority police boarded an American Airlines plane at New York JFK because a flight attendant saw an Asian American woman follow her hispanic husband to the lavatory (he was feeling unwell) and saw that they shared an orange juice. The flight attendant called for a sex trafficking investigation.
Airlines train their crews to spot potential human trafficking, the training clearly isn’t very good and flight attendants aren’t law enforcement investigators. And when law enforcement does actually get involved? This United Airlines pilot – who was an actual pimp running Houston brothels – escaped jail time.
This isn’t just airlines. Hotel staff are trained by the Department of Homeland Security to report guests with too many used condoms in the trash, as well as:
- frequent use of the “Do Not Disturb” sign (you’re tired and don’t want to be bothered)
- guests who avert their eyes or don’t make eye contact (you’re tired and don’t want to be bothered)
- people with “lower quality clothing than companions” (no one ever accused me of fashion)
- people who have “suspicious tattoos” (which just means you’re from Austin or Portland)
- having multiple computers, cell phones, and other technology (you’re a blogger)
- “presence of photography equipment” (you’re a blogger)
- refusal of cleaning services for multiple days (you ‘made a green choice’)
- rooms paid for with cash or a rechargeable credit card (you have to unload your gift card purchases somehow)
- guests with few personal possessions (you refuse to check a bag because you’re a frequent traveler)
If a young Julia Roberts accompanies Richard Gere into what’s now the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire you know what’s going on, you’ve seen that movie, but even there it’s consenting adults and she was working for herself.
It’s a problem when the government trains private people to snoop on customers’ business and look for little ‘clues’ that are perfectly normal behavior. We’re not going to stop exploitation of children with prejudice and poor training.