Monday, April 30th, 2012
The Sikh Coalition and other prominent national civil rights leaders released Monday, what they are describing as “a game-changing mobile application” that enables users to report instances of airport profiling in real time.
For years, Sikh travelers have complained of discriminatory screening and pat downs at airport checkpoints across the United States. At some airports, the Sikh Coalition has found that Sikh travelers are subjected to secondary screening 100% of the time.
The Sikh Coalition created the application — called “FlyRights” — to bridge the gap between Sikh, Muslim, South Asian, Latino, and other community concerns about airport profiling and official remedial action. Complaints filed through the innovative app will be reviewed as official complaints by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“The TSA asserts it doesn’t profile. This application will allow us to better assess whether that’s true,” said Amardeep Singh, Director of Programs at the Sikh Coalition. “All travelers now have an easy way of speaking to their government on the issue of airport profiling.”
According to the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at DHS, only 11 official complaints of improper TSA screening were filed during the first two quarters of 2011. The Sikh Coalition believes the app will exponentially increase the number of complaints filed, providing transparency on the extent of profiling at US airports.
The news that the application was going be released today led to immediate support from allies outside of the impacted communities and on Capitol Hill.
Senator Dick Durbin praised the app, saying, “The vast majority of law enforcement officers perform their jobs honorably and courageously. Unfortunately, the inappropriate actions of the few who engage in racial profiling create mistrust and suspicion that hurts all law enforcement officers. This app is an important new tool that allows passengers to fight profiling. I commend the Sikh Coalition and their partners in the civil rights community for this innovative approach to protecting the civil rights of innocent Americans.”
Representative Judy Chu also said, “Up until now, victims of racial profiling at our nation’s airports had no easy way to call attention to this unfortunate trend. The Sikh Coalition’s new app changes that. Travelers now have the power to fight racial profiling right at their fingertips.”
Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said, “Racial profiling is ineffective and wasteful law enforcement that regularly and unfairly deprives people of their freedom. This app will protect the innocent individuals who are most targeted and make air travel safer for all.”
FlyRights is available for both Iphones and Android phones. Both applications were created in consultation with advocacy organizations in the Black, Latino, South Asian, and civil liberties communities.
“For too long the TSA has kept a long leash on its screeners, telling them not to profile, but taking no effective measures to stop it,” Amardeep Singh said. “Until that happens, we call on the public to hold the TSA accountable by downloading the Fly-Rights app and filing reports when appropriate.”