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Shoshana Hebhsi Sues FBI, Airline, TSA for Racial Profiling

A woman of Jewish and Arab descent filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the FBI, Frontier Airlines, and several other government agencies after she was allegedly racially profiled on a flight in Detroit. 

Shoshana Hebhsi, of Sylvania, Ohio, flew into Detroit on her way home. She was onboard a Frontier Airlines flight when she was approached by federal agents with "large guns." The agents removed her from the flight along with two other men who were sitting in the same row as her.

The Detroit Free Press said Hebshi and the two men were handcuffed and taken to vehicles. Hebshi said she was asked to remove her clothing so they could search her. 

Hebshi said she was humiliated by the event, which took place on September 11, 2011. 

"I was frightened and humiliated. As an American citizen and a mom, I'm really concerned about my children growing up in a country where your skin color and your name can put your freedom and liberty at risk at any time. This country has a history of profiling and oppressing people who look different," she said. 

The ACLU filed a lawsuit on Hebshi's behalf against the FBI, TSA, ICE, Customs and Border Protection, and United airlines. 

An attorney for ACLU said that Hebshi did nothing suspicious that day.

A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said, "While ICE does not comment on pending litigation, ICE is serious about responding to complaints or allegations of racial profiling and does not tolerate profiling by its personnel."

Other agencies involved in the litigation declined to comment. Frontier Airlines spokeswoman Kate O'Malley, however, did say that her employees were following protocol after receiving passenger complaints.

"As an airline, our duty and that of our flight crews is to ensure the safety of our passengers and we have the responsibility to report any suspicious behavior to law enforcement officials," O'Malley said. 

The names of the two "Indian-American" men Hebshi was seated next to have not been released. 


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