Interview: Deshon Marman’s Mother on End of Saggy Pants Case; Charges Racism, Says Lawsuit Likely
Update 12 p.m. KQED’s Mina Kim spoke to Donna Doyle, Deshon Marman’s mother, about today’s announcement by the San Mateo County DA that there would no charges filed against her son in the sagging pants case. Listen below. An edited transcript follows the audio.
Also, here’s an edited transcript of an interview that KQED intern Erin Ferguson conducted with John McDonald, VP of Communications at US Airways, before the announcement that no charges would be filed.
McDonald was reacting to San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen’s call for a board resolution in support of Marman, including a request that US Airways apologize. McDonald says that US Airways was “working with Donna Doyle and the NAACP to help Mr. Marman get through the incident and land on his feet.”
Judging from the interview with Donna Doyle below, I’m not sure she sees it that way…
What’s your reaction to the news?
I”m grateful. I’m glad they finally decided to do the right thing.
I understand you’re considering pursuing legal action against the airline?
I haven’t gone that far as of yet but at some point I will speak with my attorney and see what’s the next step.
What would you be suing the airline for?
Well there’s a lot of racism in there. Between the humiliation and the harassment that they brought upon my son.
Are you talking with the NAACP about their support? I know they spoke out strongly in support of Deshon.
Yes I have spoken with pastor (Amos) Brown last night when we heard the decsion and I’ll be speaking with him again today at some point.
And right now are you in conversation with your lawyers to determine whether or not you want to pursue the suit or how to pursue it?
On how to pursue it and what measures we need to take to make it happen.
So you’ve already decided to go ahead and do it, it’s just a matter of how you’ll pursue it then?
Um, pretty much. Yes. Yes.
How is Deshon doing? What was his reaction to the news?
Deshon is overwhelmed but grateful that all this has come to an end. It took a toll on him after being humiliated and embarrassed nationwide. We’re glad that it’s come to an end.
Were you the one who gave him the news?
Yes I was. He jumped for joy. “Yeah mom we did it. Tell everybody from home I love them and thank them for all the love and support.” Because we had a lot of support around Deshon here that rallied yesterday afternoon at 12 o’clock at City Hall. It was beautiful. From the supervisor Malia Cohen to a few of the other supervisors in the city. Different communities that had gotten together and rallied around Deshon, so he was really excited and pleased.
Has he been a bit surprised by the national reaction to what happened?
I would think he would be surprised. You wouldn’t think that because of saggy pajamas that this would go nationwide. And it kind of blew up. Being that it became a racist thing; you have other people that can wear what they want to wear on the plane, but here comes this African American kid that chooses to wear what he wants to and it becomes a problem. I think we all were pretty surprised.
What was the hardest part about this process for Deshon?
The embarrassment, being taken off the plane. The police jumping on him and carrying him out of the airport in like a bodybag and people looking and seeing this go on.
What are you seeking from the airline? At the NAACP press conference, one of the things they were saying was that they wanted an apology from the airline and also senstivity training. The airline has not yet issued an apology and they’re standing by their statement that he needed to obey crewmembers’ instructions. What is your response to that?
First of all, the crewmembers shouldn’t have been addressing Deshon any further when he complied and did what the young lady asked him to do, and that was to pull up his pants. He did that, the pilot came down and spoke to him, he saw that Deshon had complied, the matter should have been defused at that point.
The pilot, who should be more people sensitive, should have saw that Deshon did what was asked of him; he should have gone on and drove the plane as he’s hired to do, instead of having a debate with Deshon and harrassing him and telling him to get off the plane. What was the reasoning? Why did he need to ask him to get off the plane? That’s the key question. For what? You shouldn’t have been bothering him anyway about his clothing. You didn’t bother the other passenges about their choice of clothing. So why would you bother Deshon? And, there’s no dress code. So why were you in my son’s face about his clothing?
I sleep every night trying to figure out what my son did wrong. And I’ve yet to find out what he did wrong other than ask the pilot why do I need to get off the plane? And then he trusted the San Mateo Sheriff’s Department, when he said if you get off the plane, we’re going to put you on another plane. When he walked off the plane, the police department jumped him.
Are you interested in also pursing action against the police?
I’m considering, of course. They have humiliated my son, even more so when they jumped him and then put him in that bodybag and threw him in the paddy wagon like he was a piece of meat. They didn’t consider that he was human, he is somebody. They treated him as if he was an animal and he was a criminal, and he is neither. They probably wouldn’t treat an animal the way they treated my son.
What would you like from the airline to make you and Deshon whole? An apology?
First and foremost, an apology from US Airways. Their employees. I would think that they would want to apologize for taking this as far as it did, and it should not have gone this far.
Here’s an interview that KQED intern Erin Ferguson conducted with John McDonald, VP of Communications at US Airways, on San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen’s call for a board resolution in support of Marman, including a request that US Airways apologize.
Supervisor Malia Cohen urged US Airways to make their dress code policy more consistent and asked for a public statement of apology in the Deshon Marman case. What’s your response?
We’re working with the San Francisco NAACP, Reverend Brown, and Miss Doyle, and we’re prepared to work with them to help Mr. Marman get through the incident and land on his feet.
The supervisor Malia Cohen said that she felt compelled to make this statement because she thought US Airways had handled this incident so poorly, with a very nonchalant and cavalier response. Your response?
I think it’s really important to remember that this issue is about passenger compliance with airline employee instuctions and crewmember directions. That was not complied with. That’s what this issue is about. And hey, we’re not perfect, I don’t know any airline that is perfect. If there’s a way that we can improve our customer service and interaction with passengers, we’re certainly going to do that.
But the fact of the matter is, he refused to comply with the crewmember instructions and he was asked to deplane the aircraft. And tha’ts a safety and security issue, and that safety and security of our crews, our emloyees, and our customers is our top priority.
What is US Airways dress code policy?
This is not about dress code. This is about a person who was on one of our craft and refused to comply with a crewmember instruction and was asked to deplane. That’s what this is about.
Does US airways have any intention of apologizing to Marman, as Cohens’ resolution calls for?
We don’t apologize for our employees taking the safety and security of our aircraft, our crews, and out customers as a top priority. That’s what this is about.
The San Mateo County DA has declined to file charges against Deshon Marman, the 20-year-old University of New Mexico football player who was removed from a US Airways flight after getting into a dispute over his pants, which were reportedly sagging low enough to expose his underwear.
Marman was taken into custody on suspicion of three crimes: battery on a police officer, a felony, and resisting arrest and trespassing, both misdemeanors. He faced up to four years in state prison.
From the statement by Chief Deputy DA Stephen Wagstaffe:
Our review of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office investigative reports and the San Francisco Police Department Airport Bureau police reports regarding the arrest of Deshon Everett Marman on June 15, 2011 has been completed by my office. We have determined that the evidence does not warrant the filing of criminal charges against Mr. Marman.
While we believe the officers on scene acted appropriately and professionally during the over one hour that they were in contact with Mr. Marman and repeatedly attempted to resolve the situation without difficulty, and while Mr. Marman could have quickly obviated the need for further intervention, we do not believe that criminal charges are warranted in light of all of the circumstances surrounding the incident.
The case raised issues of possible discrimination against Marman, who is African American. At a press conference, Amos Brown, head of the local NAACP chapter, said Marman’s arrest was a “question of walking while black.” Marman’s mother, Donna Doyle, blamed airline personnel for escalating the incident.
The possibility of a double standard was thrown into further relief with the revelation that US Airways had on multiple occasions allowed a cross-dressing passenger to fly wearing exposed women’s underwear.
US Airways spokesman John McDonald said the company is open to dialogue, but that all passengers must obey crewmember instructions.
“This is not about dress code. This is about a person who refused to comply with a crew member instruction and was asked to deplane. That is what this is about.”