After Southwest Employee Suspected of Human Trafficking, Mom Says That She and Her Biracial Daughter Stop at Airport


Los Angeles mom says her daughter of biracial descent and she were stopped by Southwest employees as they tried to board a Denver flight after she suspected that she was human trafficking.

Mary MacCarthy and her 10-year-old daughter, Moira, flew to Colorado after the sudden death of the woman’s older brother, the mother said. They were being evacuated from the plane when they were stopped by a Southwest Airlines agent as well as two Denver police officers.

The officers questioned the mother and her daughter because a a flight attendant had deemed their behavior as suspicious and flagged the woman as a possible human trafficker, according to a Denver police report and the mother, according to The Denver Post.

“The whole thing is based on what I believe to be a racist assumption about a mixed-race family,”MacCarthy stated.

“The officer said, ‘We’re talking to you because you were reported to the pilot for suspicious behavior,’”MacCarthy agreed. “And it immediately occurred to me what was going on. This is what mixed-race and family of color experience when traveling.” she told the newspaper.

The mother said she explained they were traveling at the last minute for funeral. In cellphone video taken by MacCarthy, her daughter can be heard sobbing. The two were then allowed to leave, MacCarthy said.

The flight attendant who reported MacCarthy said she was suspicious because the two were the last to board the plane and because MacCarthy asked other passengers to exchange seats so the girl could sit next to her, the police report said, according to the media site. The attendant also reported that the pair did not speak to each other, the report said.

“MacCarthy said that someone saw us. KTVU TV.“They observed a white woman and her child of a different racial background, and decided to report us for an alleged serious crime.”

MacCarthy said she and her daughter were in the last boarding group, and that Moira was listening to an audio book while the mother slept. She said a fellow passenger was not bothered by exchanging seats so the girl could sit next to her mother.

MacCarthy has hired civil rights attorney Daniel Lane to represent her.  “It’s the corporate training that is lacking here,” Lane told the station. “Southwest needs to train their officers when they can and can’t call the police.”

In a statement, Southwest said, “We were disheartened to learn of this mother’s account when traveling with her daughter. We have begun an internal review and will reach out to the customer to address any concerns or offer our apologies.

The airline stated that its employees are trained to spot possible human trafficking.

MacCarthy claimed that the experience left her daughter traumatized.