TSA Agents: Anti-Terrorist Program Targets Blacks and Latinos

More than 30 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Boston's Logan International airport report that a new anti-terrorist program has become a source of racial profiling targeting Black and Latino travelers for drug crimes. 

According to the New York Times, interviews and complaints from officers at the TSA's "behavior detection" program claim passengers who fit certain racist stereotypes (for drug dealers) -- like Hispanics en route to Miami or Blacks wearing backwards baseball hats --  "are more likely to be stopped, searched, and questioned for 'suspicious' behavior." 

“They just pull aside anyone who they don’t like the way they look — if they are black and have expensive clothes or jewelry, or if they are Hispanic,” one officer told theNYT.

At a meeting last month with T.S.A. officials, officers at Logan provided written complaints about profiling from 32 officers, some of whom wrote anonymously. Officers said managers’ demands for high numbers of stops, searches and criminal referrals had led co-workers to target minorities in the belief that those stops were more likely to yield drugs, outstanding arrest warrants or immigration problems.

The practice has become so prevalent, some officers said, that Massachusetts State Police officials have asked why minority members appear to make up an overwhelming number of the cases that the airport refers to them.

The TSA says it has opened an investigation into the claims. Read the full New York Times story here

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at August 13, 2012, 11:29am