Black Conservative Activist Delays American Airlines Flight, Videotaping His Refusal To Wear A Mask

David Harris, Jr. is apparently popular in certain circles as a black man who supports President Trump, though I hadn’t heard of him until he made a ruckus on an American Airlines flight – refusing to wear a mask, and advising his followers that only N95 masks are prophylactic, which isn’t supported by the balance of evidence at this point.

Apparently Mr. Harris held up a flight departure on Saturday when he boarded without a mask on, and passengers complained. He reports that he “declared [to] have a medical reason to not wear a mask” and the captain addressed passengers letting them know someone wasn’t wearing a mask and offering everyone the opportunity to deplane. Reportedly no one did.

Harris offered this inaccurate legal take,

They cannot violate your HIPAA rights at American and ask you anything about your medical issue, so for all the people on the plane who might want to get off, cause they might not feel say, then get the heck off!

The man videotaped the incident he caused, though notably he edited out the part where he had a discussion with the flight’s captain.

The airline’s new mask policy, which they say won’t allow anyone who refuses to wear a mask to fly (even if they have a disability that makes it inadvisable to do so) does not go into effect until Wednesday, July 29.

And despite claiming to have a medical condition that prevents him from wearing a mask, he has appeared on Instagram wearing one (albeit improperly). Hopefully this is enough evidence for American to ban the man from its flights, although it generally takes multiple violations before they’ll actually do so.

Credit: David Harris, Jr. via Mediaite

My take is that whether he has a medical issue or not, he appears to be giving a wink and nod to the medical claim – he’s asking people not to believe him. In telling people ‘not to lie’ about their medical condition, he’s insinuating that if they lie they can get out of the requirement – the past photo of him wearing a mask notwithstanding. And he takes a little too much joy in the confrontation.

While the efficacy of different kinds of masks varies tremendously, and it’s appalling that this many months into the pandemic quality respirator masks still aren’t available to the general public (let alone in sufficient quantity for health care workers), access is certainly improving. Regardless, even disposable ear loop masks seem to have some effect reducing the distance that respiratory droplets travel and combined with HEPA air filtration on all but small regional jets and turboprops combine to improve the safety of aircraft for everyone.

Ultimately face masks should be the conservative alternative to shut down orders, where a heavy hand of government tells people they have to stay home. Masks are far less intrusive. If everyone wears them more businesses can stay open, people can engage in more activities. So it seems an odd focal point for so-called conservative activism.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I don’t agree all he said but is it really necessary to especially note he is black and conservative activist? It is a tabloid and sensational style. I am very disappointned.

  2. Yup, I don’t see it specified as ‘White person refuses to wear a mask’ in your other headlines.
    Really a new low for this blog today.

  3. @LK @Shannon – you may not realize it’s how he identifies *himself*, reading up on him when I saw the incident it’s literally part of the title of his book. So who is this guy? He’d say he’s a black conservative activist.

  4. I’m Black and I’m not offended by your title, but I will say I’m embarrassed by how dumb he is. Especially putting his face out there like that as people are crazy and you just never know the type of person you could be upsetting. The message that he’s sending out could put him in a lot of danger.

  5. I would not be surprised if Putin is behind some of the mayhem about wearing or not wearing masks, Black lives matter or don’t matter, etc. The news media is also into sensationalism.

    Basically, if you are for Putin, vote Trump. Trump is soft on Russia. If you are for Xi, vote Biden. Biden is soft on China. Sad.

  6. The absolute best is the guy on twitter who claims I wrote this because I resent a black guy sitting in first class. Hopefully everyone else reading this blog is smart enough to recognize he’s sitting in coach.

  7. Refusing to wear a mask is a badge of idiocy. (As if being a Trump supporter weren’t enough already.)

  8. Black left leaning moderate here, the title is notable. People who think thee title is a new low, carry on. What a douche?

  9. There should be no multiple violations crap. If someone is getting on a plane and not wearing a mask and they are instructed to do so and they refuse to comply that should be it. They should be banned. How allow covidiots to repeat their performances on another flight?

  10. This makes me angry, he is a selfish A**. delaying everyone else. I don’t give a F*** if he has a trump hat or who he has an allegiance to. ( I personally do not like Trump) The airlines own those planes and pay those salaries, he should have been removed. I hope he is banned from future flights.

  11. “the captain addressed passengers letting them know someone wasn’t wearing a mask and offering everyone the opportunity to deplane”

    They should make this guy deplane, not other people who are following mask rules and have to get to their destinations. What’s AA’s policy on this?

  12. Pathetic, posturing buffoon. By all means live in a bubble if you wish…but when you choose to interact with others, then follow the rules for the collective good.

  13. HIPAA deals w/the release of medical records. Nothing to do w/idiots who refuse to wear a mask on an airplane.

  14. So if I read this correctly:

    1. the current rules are that if you have a medical reason not to wear a mask, you don’t have to wear one (though that policy will change soon).

    2. And (in his interpretation) HIPAA prevents AA from challenging his medical excuse.

    If both of those things are right, then technically he has a point, and that means he is going way out of his way to ridiculously inconvenience, delay and possibly financially affect numerous other people …

    just to make his point.

    There’s a word for this kind of person: Provocateur.

    And what’s different about this provocateur? He’s on the right, whereas almost all of the most famous provocateurs of recent years have been coming from the left.

    For example, Google lists 240 bakeries in the Denver metropolitan area. But when Charlie Craig and David Mullins decided to get married, they went to a small suburb of Denver that neither of them lived in and demanded that a baker in that suburb named Jack Phillips, who was publicly known for refusing to bake cakes for same-sex weddings, bake the cake. They then sued him in multiple courts and nearly bankrupted him before the Supreme Court upheld Jack’s constitutional rights 7 to 2.

    Why Jack Phillips? Why not one of the other 239 bakeries, perhaps a dozen of which they had to drive past to get to Jack Phillips?

    To make their point.

    And when someone on the left decides to make a point, we all proceed to a discussion on the point they are trying to make.

    But when a provocateur on the right seriously inconveniences and (possibly) financially harms people just to make a point, we reasonably call him what one of the commenters above said so well:

    a jerk.

  15. If you find it difficult to breath with a thin piece of cloth on your face, then you’re probably in a high risk category for Covid-19. And, as such, you really need to put a fucking mask on.

  16. If we stop giving these people coverage / a reaction eventually they will fade away.

  17. David Harris is a complete little attention hoe. He has also walked through the San Francisco airport with a MAGA hat. This guys is desperately seeking attention any way he can get it. When his Orange friend looses the election, he will need to find some other gig.

  18. Reckon he thought MENTAL ILLNESS would exempt him from wearing a mask? Just asking. He probably thought he was in a mental asylum with other RePub Neocons, not on a airplane.

  19. Don’t understand why you are posting this, as you stated in the post that passengers MUST wear a face mask, had not been in effect at time of incident. Passengers only had to notify gate agent that they could not wear a mask and the crew would then be notified. For you to single him out as a “black conservative ” had nothing to do with his right to decline wearing a face mask, at that time. It is no one’s business what your medical issue may he, whether you believe it to be true or not. Perhaps you had an issue with the hat he was wearing? (Could be construed as me making assumptions, as you did-just an example). I did not subscribe to your blog to hear your political comments, plenty of others out there for that!

  20. I assume you are referring to the N95-type masks when you say people need ‘quality respirator masks.’ Those masks are not really appropriate for the general public – I see people all around who are wearing them completely incorrectly. For it to be useful, not only do you need to have the correct size and know how to take it on and off without releasing all the droplets that are contained on the surface after exposure, but you also need to know how to correctly fit/mold it to your face. This is why medical professionals and other occupations who wear it for their jobs have to get a yearly fit test – a horribly annoying process of sitting in a room with a bag over your head having a person spray the air to make sure the mask does its job. Unless you do all these steps, it’s basically the same as a cloth or surgical mask for a lot more money! Finally, if you’ve ever worn one of these masks for over 30 minutes, you quickly realize that the condensation that builds up on the inside does not make it ideal for long periods.

  21. While he absolutely should wear a mask, if for no other reason than no one knows anything about this virus, your headline, is sad, unprofessional of an influencer, and at these times unnecessary. A shame that you couldn’t stay focused on the issue and instead decided to make it a divisive political piece, regardless of how he identifies.

  22. This moron thinks he has the “right” to possibly infect others. Of course he is a proud Trumpster.

  23. The CDC data itself shows that mask increased protection against covid by……1.35%.
    While having a serious deleterious effect on gums. Odontogingivitis is also (and as a result a consequence of prolonged mask wearing) a risk factor of serious forms of covid (anaerobic pneumonia).
    Mask should not be worn during long flights and some airlines (like Cathay) now allow business seats to go maskless if desired.
    Go with science, not against it.
    Go maskless.

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