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NAACP Demands Investigation After TSA Officers Hung Noose at Miami Airport

Miami International Airport
Miami International Airport Photo by lavendertime / iStock.com
click to enlarge Miami International Airport - PHOTO BY LAVENDERTIME / ISTOCK.COM
Miami International Airport
Photo by lavendertime / iStock.com
Miami International Airport is a landing pad for people from every corner of the globe. Compared to, say, an airport in Montana, the clientele and staff at MIA are about as multicultural as they come. So after two Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents at Miami-Dade's primary airport this week were caught hanging a noose and toy gorillas on a workers-only floor at the airport, the staff at MIA is understandably in a state of disarray. Employees told CNN earlier this week they're angry with both the co-workers who made the display and the managers who allegedly tried to downplay the incident.

Now the Miami-Dade chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is speaking out about what happened. In a statement yesterday, the local chapter said it was horrified about what it saw and is demanding an external investigation by an entity such as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. NAACP leaders are also asking to meet with the TSA to discuss the issue further.

"This environment of racial animus against black people has no business happening in any environment, especially not in an environment funded by public dollars for the purpose of keeping all people safe and secure," chapter president Ruban Roberts and second vice president Daniella Pierre said in a joint statement. "If you understand the history of the lynching of black people in this country, then you know that this could never be considered a prank or taken lightly. We, the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP, find such behavior, intent, and thinking behind such derogatory actions humiliating, oppressive, demoralizing, and offensive to black people."

This past Tuesday, CNN first reported that two TSA agents had been placed on "administrative leave" after they'd hung an old-fashioned noose and two toy gorillas from a pole on a floor used by TSA workers to screen checked bags before they're placed on airplanes.
According to CNN, three TSA employees found the display and were horrified — but when they initially reported it to management, they say, a TSA supervisor tried to play off the noose as a joke or not a particularly big deal. In the ensuing days, so many employees lodged complaints that high-level TSA administrators were forced to launch an investigation into the incident and had to formulate a company-wide response to deal with the sheer number of messages they were receiving.

Tuesday, the TSA formally announced that two unnamed employees were on leave as the agency investigates what happened:
"An offensive display was discovered in a TSA baggage screening area located in the non-public side of Miami International Airport. TSA Officers immediately reported it to TSA Management. The display was immediately removed and an investigation was launched into who was responsible for the unacceptable behavior. TSA does not tolerate racist or offensive behavior and those found responsible will be held accountable for their actions. Two TSA Officers have been placed on administrative leave while the investigation is ongoing."
Now, in a statement issued yesterday, the Miami-Dade NAACP is demanding the TSA hold these employees to the highest standard possible.

"We are demanding a full investigation to be done by TSA, along with an independent entity like the Florida Department of Law Enforcement," the NAACP says. "And after the investigation is completed, if it is revealed that those were caught are in fact employees of TSA, we demand that swift action be taken against all parties involved to the fullest extent of TSA's employment and discrimination policies, including Federal Hate Crime Laws, in an effort to ensure justice is duly served."
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.