Has the American government taken a proactive and committed stance against activists who speak out against racism and global White supremacy?
If the responses and actions taken against NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick are any indication, it would appear that American culture has seemingly embraced the idea that Black activists, regardless of their wealth and status, are being targeted for their outspoken views on the matter.
A recent incident that took place on a global level, involving a well-known Black activist, has not only caused a major stir domestically and internationally, but it has also gotten the attention of a member of the U.S. Congress.
In the activist world, Krystal Muhammad is known for her fiery rhetoric and bold stance against racism and global White supremacy as the National Chair of The New Black Panther Party (NBPP). Krystal has long been associated with the NBPP, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled as a domestic terrorist group, although there has been no evidence of any known acts of domestic terrorism that has been committed by the group historically.
Of course, the U.S. government has had the NBPP placed on the domestic terrorist watch list for years, and most recently the FBI had the NBPP labeled with a newly created identifier – Black Identity Extremists.
In August 2017, the FBI distributed what they claimed was an intelligence assessment to more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies, claiming without evidence that Black people who protested and got involved with unrelated police murders were the newest domestic threat and that they were “Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers.”
As one can imagine, these sorts of labels have led to years of groups like the NBPP and its members being under constant surveillance and selective scrutiny by the U.S. government and law enforcement agencies all across the country.
Krystal claims that her most recent run in with the American and Canadian governments are proof that activists are being racially profiled and targeted whether they are pulled over in their vehicles, taking a cruise or traveling by air.
According to Krystal, due to the level of harassment at the airports that she and other members of the NBPP had experienced while traveling domestically, she decided to contact U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee a couple of weeks in advance of the travel date regarding the travel concerns and the alleged harassment of TSA. According to Krystal, Congresswoman Jackson Lee notified them that she and her staff would be available to assist if they had any issues. Unfortunately, as she predicted, they were flagged by TSA in New Orleans as they tried to get their boarding passes at AIR Canada.
Krystal tells the Forward Times that on April 10, she and some of her colleagues were on their way to London to attend the April 12th viewing of a major film she was featured in. The film called “What Are You Going To Do When The World On Fire” was being featured a second time in London, and Krystal was asked to participate in a 90-minute question and answer round table discussion on the film and on the NBPP organization. As she and her colleagues arrived in Toronto, Canada on that day that is when Krystal says the racial profiling and harassment began.
Krystal states that upon exiting the airplane in Toronto they followed the signs for International flights, and upon doing so, had their passports customarily scanned in order to clear security and continue on with their travel. Krystal states that all of their passports cleared and they all received a printed ticket showing they had cleared with a green check with the time listed on it. When it was time to board their connecting flight, the gate agent at Air Canada asked Krystal and her colleagues for their passports and boarding passes. The gate agent proceeded to tell everyone that their passports were fine, but that Krystal’s passport was not reading properly. The gate agent encouraged her colleagues to continue on with their flight to avoid losing their tickets, and told Krystal that she would have to go to the U.S. Consulate office in the morning and get a new passport. Krystal explained that the passport she had in her possession had worked fine in that airport as they had just gotten off the plane a few hours earlier and that it had also scanned fine in New Orleans a few hours before that. Krystal decided to call U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee to express their dilemma, but according to Krystal, the Air Canada gate agent refused and stated that Krystal and her colleagues needed to be escorted out of the airport and they needed to pick up their bags at customs. According to Krystal, they received their bags after an hour wait presented their passports to the customs agent, who said that he didn’t see anything wrong with their passports. This began a disturbing ordeal that went on for several days.
Krystal states that she endured physical pain after having gone from place to place and from gate to gate with a knee injury with a clearly visible leg brace on. She also claims that she and her colleagues were kicked out of the U.S. Consulate while in Canada.
“This was a nightmare. This was racial profiling,” said Krystal. “We were treated inhumanely, they attempted to humiliate us several times. We were denied the right to travel internationally and domestically. We spent thousands of dollars. We were prevented from attending an event that people looked forward to having us attend, that took months of planning. We clearly are not valued as Black people or as U.S. citizens.”
Congresswoman Jackson Lee, who is a senior Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, tells the Forward Times that she plans to do look into the overall matter domestically and is also going to challenge the Canadian government to look into potential acts of racial profiling.
“Krystal is not on a no-fly list,” said Congresswoman Jackson Lee. “She is a selectee and there is no clear reason as to why she is, but I strongly believe that no one should be simply selected and singled out because of their political beliefs, religious beliefs or social stances.”
Congresswoman Jackson states that she is deeply concerned about the treatment that Krystal received and is very concerned about the possibility that the Canadian government may have racially profiled Krystal and her colleagues.
“As a member of Homeland Security, I believe it is important that we do everything humanly possible to protect our borders and our citizens,” said Congresswoman Jackson Lee. “I also believe that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect, and should be able to travel free from profiling of any sort, including racial profiling. I will be looking into this intently.”
Krystal seems to have been impacted by the secondary security screening selection, commonly seen on boarding passes as ‘SSSS’. In order to fall into the category of being a selectee, there really is not a clear reason, but it is believed that most people who are a part of some sort of list are watched more closely than usual travels, for whatever reason they end up on that list.
The Forward Times will continue to monitor the outcome of the investigations being requested by Congresswoman Jackson Lee and will keep its readers abreast of any updated findings.