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NAACP continues allegations of bias against Southwest Airlines at St. Louis airport

ST. LOUIS - NAACP allegations concerning Southwest Airlines at St. Louis Lambert Airport are piling up. In late June, the organization first came out with charges of discrimination, now they say they’ve uncovered more problems that could impact passengers’ safety. Adolphus Pruitt II is the president of the NAACP in St. Louis. He said, “Southwest needs to clean up the St. Louis station.”

He said they now have 45 allegations of racial problems involving Southwest Airlines in St. Louis. Pruitt said, “We are coming across some things that impact other agencies.”

He’s sent letters to a number of agencies including the FAA, the person in charge of the airport, several elected officials at city hall including the mayor and the person in charge of the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission.

In the letter to the FAA the NAACP said some African-Americans who work on the ramp were poorly trained intentionally by Southwest so they could be easily fired during probation.  Pruitt added, “Those folks who want to get rid of them allow them to pile up enough demerits to justify their termination.”

He said this includes the person who de-ices the planes which he said could impact passengers’ safety. Pruitt said, “We really felt we had some obligations to notify the FAA.”

The letters to city officials asked them to make sure any airport tenant is following anti-discrimination laws.  Mary Mulconnery was flying Southwest on Wednesday, “I think some people like to start trouble over nothing I never seen any evidence.”  Miah Brown was also a Southwest Customer Wednesday.  She said, “I haven’t had any issues with Southwest…if they have enough people complaining just cause it hasn’t happen to me they should still look into them.”

As for the CVC which works to attract conventions to St. Louis, Pruitt said that a message on a board at Southwest Airlines referred to the Church of God in Christ Convocation as the Church of God in wheelchairs. The Church of God in Christ is one of the biggest conventions to come to St. Louis. Pruitt added, “It can lead to other organizations questioning whether the city is a friendly place and whether they want to come to the city for conventions in the future.”

Kitty Ratcliffe at the C.V.C. said in a statement that they take very seriously any concerns that may be raised regarding racial bias and inequality. She said any concerns will be addressed by the city, the airport and Southwest Airlines. An airport spokesman said it is reviewing the letter it received.

Pruitt said he has talked to the Southwest Airline Vice President of inclusion and diversity.  Pruitt said the airline is investigating and twice has had teams on the ground here in St. Louis looking into the matter.  Repeated attempts to get a comment from Southwest failed.