Justice

American Airlines Responds to a Flight Attendant's Black Lives Matter Pin

September 9th 2016

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

A photo taken on an American Airlines flight made some people angry because of a button. An image of a flight attendant wearing a Black Lives Matter button started circulating the internet, when an angry Facebook user posted it to the American Airlines Facebook page, according to Buzzfeed.

Maggie Dietrich posted the photo with the comment "disgraceful."

Maggie Dietrich's post courtesy of Buzzfeed.

Dietrich said that she would never support a group like Black Lives Matter that promotes "murdering police officers."

“I don’t support any group, this one included, that promotes murdering police officers, arson, theft or all out civil disobedience,” she told Buzzfeed. “This organization does not promote, at least on any news outlet I’ve ever seen, peace and equality.”

American Airlines said that it took the photo down because an employee was featured in it, and the company wrote on its Facebook page that that it would advise its management team to "ensure all uniform standards are followed."

An American airlines employee wore a Black Lives Matter button.

However, Dietrich uses a common argument against Black Lives Matter, which is built on the misconception that Black Lives Matter is a radical group that supports murdering police officers.

Black Lives Matter founders.

Black Lives Matter was founded by Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors in 2012 after unarmed, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman. It's a national organization that lists its mission as promoting the "validity of black life." 

Dietrich's comment about a group that supports "murdering police officers" is most like a reference to the shooting of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana this summer. After police officers shot and killed two black men – Alton Sterling while he was handcufffed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota – Black Lives Matter protests and unrest broke out all over the country.

In July, Micah Xavier Johnson acted alone when he shot and killed five police officers at a Dallas Black Lives Matter rally for Philando Castile. The rally was peaceful up to that point, and police officers even posed for photos with the protesters.

In response, Black Lives Matter leaders released a statement condemning the killing of Dallas police officers.

"This is a tragedy– both for those who have been impacted by yesterday’s attack and for our democracy. There are some who would use these events to stifle a movement for change and quicken the demise of a vibrant discourse on the human rights of Black Americans. We should reject all of this. Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it. Yesterday’s attack was the result of the actions of a lone gunman."

In Baton Rouge, another lone gunman Gavin Long shot and killed three police officers just weeks after the Dallas shooting.

After the shooting, well-known Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson told The New York Times that the movement is about ending violence.

“The movement began as a call to end violence. That call remains,” he said to the Times. He also said that his "prayers are with the victims of all violence."

The Civil Rights Movement was more radical than Black Lives Matter.

The Civil Rights Movement in the '50s and '60s is often heralded as model for peaceful protest, and it's often used as a way to criticize Black Lives Matter.

However ATTN: previously reported that, at the time, Americans thought the Civil Rights Movement was radical and too violent.

Data from the American National Elections studies reveals that 57 percent of Americans polled in 1964 thought that the Civil Rights Movement was violent and 58 percent thought that black people's protests hurt their own cause, according to Vox.

Donzaleigh Abernathy, the daughter of Civil Rights leader Rev. Ralph David Abernathy attended protests as a child.

Donzaleigh Abernathy and her siblings at a march from Selma to Montgomery.

She told ATTN: in August that Black Lives Matter is not radical in comparison to the Civil Rights Movement.

"The Civil Rights Movement was looked at as a radical movement," she said. "Black Lives Matter is not a radical movement because all they're doing is expressing the discontent that's growing all over the country."

She also pointed out that Black Lives Matter isn't about hating white people or police officers but acknowledging that society values black lives less.

"It's not saying that black lives are the only lives that matter," she said in August. "We know that white lives matter because there's something called white privilege."

Black people and other minorities are disproportionately killed by police and are more likely to be searched during traffic stops. However police are more likely to find illegal material on white people.

RELATED: The Reason Black Lives Matter Isn't Just for Black People