STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF SOUTHWEST AIRLINES PASSENGER ANILA DAULATZAI
October 4, 2017. Anila Daulatzai was violently removed from a Southwest Airlines flight on Tuesday, September 26 at Thurgood Marshall Airport in Baltimore, Maryland. She survived sexism, racial profiling, and police brutality that fateful day. Her mistreatment was particularly distressing because she is presently pregnant with her first child.
Professor Daulatzai's story has gone untold. She discussed her non-life threatening allergies to dogs with Southwest representatives upon entering the aircraft, and together they decided that she could manage by sitting away from the dogs towards the rear of the plane. Southwest allows for passengers to choose their own seats, and Professor Daulatzai found a seat comfortably distant from the animals. Contrary to the Southwest statement and various media reports, Professor Daulatzai never asked for the dogs to be removed from the plane, did not request an EpiPen, nor did she ever claim that her allergies were life-threatening.
Professor Daulatzai buckled her seat belt, turned on the overhead light, and started grading student papers. She was then approached by a series of Southwest representatives, and answered every question asked of her. She was never asked for medical certification, nor would she have needed to carry that, because her allergies are not life threatening. Despite trying to convince the crew that she would be completely fine on the plane, she was asked by another Southwest representative to leave the plane. Shortly thereafter the Maryland Transportation Authority Police pulled her from her seat by her belt loop, dragged her through the aisle exposed with torn pants, and humiliated her for the world to see in a now viral video. The Maryland Transportation Authority Police later disparaged her, accused her of lying about her pregnancy, and made racist remarks about immigrants. They also handed her a list of criminal charges, which have no merit.
Professor Daulatzai suffered physical injuries and mental trauma, required emergency care at a local hospital, including for her pregnancy, and is under continuing medical care. Professor Daulatzai has also received hate mail, including racist messages and threats of further violence. There was an attempted break in into her home. She has since left her home, fearing for her safety.
Anila Daulatzai, who previously taught at Brown University, Harvard Divinity School as well as internationally, presently holds a faculty appointment at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She is a Southwest frequent flier and is currently travelling to California weekly to take care of her hospitalized father. Her removal from the flight had nothing to do with allergies or safety concerns. Professor Daulatzai was profiled, abused, interrogated, detained, and subjected to false reporting and the trauma of racist, vitriolic public shaming precisely because she is a woman, a person of color, and a Muslim. This endangered the physical and emotional well-being of a pregnant woman, researcher, and teacher.
Professor Daulatzai and her family express gratitude to everyone who suspended judgment about what happened until hearing her account of the events that unfolded that evening.
CONTACT: Arjun S. Sethi, Civil Rights Lawyer, ArjunSethiLaw@gmail.com; Gobind S. Sethi, Hall & Sethi PLC