More than 30 federal officers with the Transportation Safety Administration in Boston have reported that a new passenger screening program frequently leads to racial profiling, the New York Times reported over the weekend. The news made waves in part because the program that’s in question at Boston’s Logan airport is being eyed as a potential model for airports across the country. But for black passengers who’ve already been targeted, news of the report, and the potential for accountability, were welcome – and clear signs that it’s not so easy to be “race-neutral” in an already flawed method of surveillance.
It’s never seemed random to me,” Steven Wellman, a computer programmer who’s black and flew into Logan airport on Sunday, told the Boston Globe. “When I travel alone, I am pulled from the line every single time – every single time.”
That sentiment was shared by another black man who once sued the airport after being illegally detained. King Downing is an attorney and director of the Human Rights-Racial Justice Center who was moved to legal action in 2003. “No one should be surprised, because it’s been going on for years, at airports and in other law enforcement situations, and there has been evidence of it for years,” Downing told the Globe. ”My first reaction was, ‘Finally, it’s about time.’ Now let’s see if we can do something about it. It’s been way too long.”
The TSA officers’ steps in reporting their concerns is unprecedented, according to the Times, which reported: