By Wally McElwain, a Spring 2012 intern at The Leadership Conference Education Fund
Seeking justice as a victim of racial profiling? There’s an app for that. On Monday, April 30, 2012, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights hosted a press conference to introduce the Sikh Coalition’s “FlyRights” app, available for free on the iPhone and Android.
The primary purpose of “FlyRights” is to collect data on racial profiling in airports. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officially tells screeners not to profile. However, the TSA hasn’t implemented any safeguards against profiling and doesn’t collect any data on whom is being screened. The app allows people who believe they have been the target of racial profiling to efficiently and effectively submit complaints to TSA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Sikh Coalition. Hence, if “FlyRights” uncovers sufficient evidence of racial profiling, the app will put the onus on government agencies to take action.Prabhjit Singh, a motivational speaker from Gaithersburg, Maryland, demonstrated “FlyRights” for the audience. Drawing on personal experience as a victim of racial profiling, Prabhjit illustrated how the app will allow air travelers to submit complaints in real time. “FlyRights” automatically populates the user’s contact information and allows him or her to easily select the airport and airline from a menu. The user can select race, religion, gender, or disability as the reason for the additional screening. Upon sending the complaint, the app allows an individual to optionally post their experience on Facebook or Twitter. The app also contains the “bill of rights” for air travelers, which can be readily shown to TSA agents.
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference, discussed his organization’s commitment to furthering the civil and human rights of the Sikh, Muslim, and South Asian American communities.
“Singling out African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, Sikhs, Arabs, or South Asians for special law enforcement scrutiny without probable cause or even reasonable belief that they are involved in a crime makes us all less safe as Americans,” Henderson said. “‘Fly Rights’ will help us change this reality in air travel.”
Amardeep Singh, cofounder and program director of the Sikh Coalition cited the Civil Rights Movement as the inspiration for the Sikh community’s fight against racial profiling. In the aftermath of the tragic 9/11 terrorist attack, the screening of Sikhs at American airports, based solely on their religious garb, sends the message that Sikhs are a terrorist threat. This is demonstrably untrue- no Sikh has ever been charged or convicted of plotting against the United States.
Executive Director of Muslim Advocates Farhana Khera, Policy Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) Priya Murthy, and Staff Attorney at the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Gadeir Abbas, all spoke at the press conference and condemned the targeting of Sikh, Muslim, and South Asian Americans during airport screenings. The three Leadership Conference coalition member representatives expressed their excitement for “FlyRights.”