The removal of a black college football player from a U.S. Airways flight and subsequent arrest in connection with his sagging pants was decried as racist today by his mother and local NAACP officials.
The fact that college football player Deshon Marman was asked to pull up his pants and ejected from a flight from San Francisco to New Mexico on June 15 is "unconscionable" given recent news reports that another white passenger has been allowed to travel regularly in women's lingerie, said Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The airline clearly targeted Marman because of his race, Brown said at a news conference Friday in San Francisco.
"He's been a victim of racial injustice and U.S. Airways owes him and his mother an apology," he said.
Brown said the NAACP will be seeking an apology from U.S. Airways and action including sensitivity training for employees.
San Francisco police and U.S. Airways officials have said that Marman, a San Francisco resident attending the University of New Mexico on a scholarship, was arrested not because of his clothing, but because he refused requests from airline crew to pull his pants up and then refused to leave the plane when told to do so by the pilot.
But Marman's mother, Donna Doyle, called the charges "bogus," and said the dispute originated with a ticket agent who did not like the way her son looked. She said Marman was not a threat or exposing any underwear once he was seated, but the pilot chose to "escalate" the situation.
"You don't judge a book by its cover, and that's what they did, they judged him by his appearance," Doyle said.
Marman was not even sporting the "saggy pants" look but was instead wearing pajama pants with a drawstring waist for comfort, she said.
He tried to pull them up when the ticket agent first mentioned them, but had bags in his hands at the time and they fell back down.
"It wasn't a fashion statement, it was pajama pants with a tie on them," Doyle said.
When she saw photos published in newspapers recently of another passenger allowed to travel in women's underwear, Doyle said she was "appalled" that the man was allowed to fly while her son was arrested.
U.S. Airways has said it does not have a dress code for passengers but asks that they "dress in an appropriate manner to ensure the safety and comfort of all our passengers."
A call to the airline requesting a response to today's news conference has not yet been returned. Brown said he did not approve of the baggy pants look, which has its roots in prison culture, but Marman should not be singled out for sporting it.
Doyle, who said she had four sons, likewise expressed reservations about the look.
"I don't condone my son's attire, but that's his choice," she said.
Marman was arrested on suspicion of a felony count of battery of a police officer and misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and trespassing
Police said an officer was injured in a scuffle after Marman was escorted off Flight 488 to Albuquerque.
He posted bail and was released from custody the next day. He is due to appear in court July 18 and the district attorney's office has until July 16 to decide whether to file charges.
Bay City News contributed to this report.