Three American Muslim families sue after they were denied a ferry ride in New York because of a 'security issue'
All three women were Muslim Americans of Pakistani descent and one of them is a New York City resident living in Brooklyn. One of the women was wearing a hijab at the time, the complaint states.
According to a new complaint filed to New York city's Commission on Human Rights, three Muslim families and their eight kids were denied a ferry ride from Wall Street to Brooklyn's Pier 6 in September after citing a "security" issue. All three women were Muslim Americans of Pakistani descent and one of them is a New York City resident living in Brooklyn. One of them was wearing a hijab at the time, the complaint states.
The complaint filed on Wednesday, October 16, says that on September 21, 2019, the family had "set out to enjoy a beautiful day together as a family and close friends." One of the mothers and her kids were traveling to Pakistan and the three families were spending some time with the others before the send-off. The children were extremely excited that day and wanted to visit Governor’s Island, says the document and the families met at Bay Ridge, Brooklyn at approximately 3:30 p.m. to board an NYC Ferry to Wall St. Ferry.
The next ferry to Governor's Island was approximately at 5 pm and the one returning was at 6:49 pm. With a double stroller and daylight waning soon, the family decided to not go ahead with the plan but instead return to Brooklyn Pier 6 and spend time together. With valid tickets in hand, they asked an HNY Ferry employee "which line to get into for the Brooklyn ferry." After a lengthy wait, an HNY Ferry employee came around and told them they couldn't board the boat because of a "security" issue.
At some point, they were informed that they were denied boarding on the Wall St. Ferry going to Brooklyn Pier 6 because the children were allegedly standing on the seats, the complaint says. NYC Ferry later admitted was false. The families believe it was just discrimination.
"For too long American Muslims have been treated with suspicion as a 'security' issue. This type of treatment must be rejected and cannot be allowed to repeat itself, especially in public transportation in a city that prides itself on its diversity. NYC Ferry has a responsibility to train and educate its employees that discriminatory behavior is unacceptable," said Ahmed Mohamed, the Council on American-Islamic Relations lawyer representing the families in a statement to MEA World Wide (MEAWW).
No family, Muslim or otherwise, should be traumatized for the simple act of using public transportation, he further added. "Our brave clients want to make sure that this misconduct does not happen to other families," he said.
The NYC Ferry is operated by HNY Ferry, LLC through a contract with the NYC Economic Development Corporation. An EDC spokesperson confirmed to MEAWW that they are looking into the matter. "We are aware of the complaint and are currently investigating the incident. NYCEDC takes these matters seriously, and is committed to ensuring that no person is denied services based on race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, gender identity or disability," they said.
HNY Ferry LLC did not respond to our request for a statement.