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Mother Who Was Accused of Trafficking Her Biracial Daughter by Southwest Sues the Airline

Mary MacCarthy filed a suit against the airlines last week for an October 2021 incident. 

Child trafficking refers to the exploitation of girls and boys, primarily for forced labor and sexual exploitation, according to the Save the Children Organization. "Children account for 27% of all the human trafficking victims worldwide, and two out of every three child victims are girls," they explain. Oftentimes child trafficking can be difficult to identify, as it isn't always obvious. And in some cases, people are wrongly accused. In October 2021, a white mother was suspected of trafficking her biracial daughter while traveling via Southwest Airlines. This week she filed a racial discrimination suit against the company. Here is what you need to know about it. 

Mother Was Traveling From Denver to Los Angeles with Her Biracial Daughter

NBC News

In October 2021, Mary MacCarthy boarded a flight from Denver to Los Angeles with her 10-year-old daughter to attend her brother's funeral. Upon landing, she and her daughter were confronted by police officers after a flight attendant suspected her of potential human trafficking, she told NBC News.

She Claims She Was Accused of Trafficking "Based on a Racist Assumption About a Mixed-Race Family"

She filed a federal lawsuit Thursday with the District Court of Colorado, accusing Southwest Airlines of racial discrimination. She claims she was accused by the airline staff  "based on a racist assumption about a mixed‐race family."

The Lawyers Claim That the Only Reason They Thought She Was Trafficking Is That She "Is White and Her Daughter Is Black"

NBC News

"The officers began questioning Ms. MacCarthy and made it clear that they were given the racially charged information that Ms. MacCarthy's daughter was possibly being trafficked by her simply because Ms. MacCarthy is White and her daughter is Black," the lawsuit reads.

Her Attorney Hopes the Case Will Accountability


MacCarthy's attorney, David Lane, hopes the suit will bring accountability to the airline. He said that the use of racial profiling has attempted to address a serious crime with a "stereotypical, easy formula."

He Likens It to "Stop-and-Frisk" Racial Profiling

NBC News

"Just as the police are constitutionally not permitted to stop-and-frisk young men of color based upon their race, corporate America is similarly not permitted to resort to such profiling in using law enforcement to stop and question racially diverse families simply based upon their divergent races, which is what Southwest did," Lane said in a statement.

The Girl Is Traumatized By the Event

NBC News

According to the mother, her daughter is still traumatized by the incident two years later. She said her daughter was "sobbing" throughout the encounter. "She unfortunately already has had charged encounters with police. Any kid's going to be scared in a situation like this," she added.

A Flight Attendant Flagged the Family as Suspicious

NBC News

According to a police report, a flight attendant flagged the family as suspicious because they were the last to board the plane, and the mother asked other passengers to change seats so they could sit together. They added that the two didn't speak on the plan,e and the mom told her daughter not to talk to the flight crew. MacCarthy denies both claims.

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