The airline employee who sparked a panic when she ordered passengers to flee from a terminal at Newark Liberty International Airport last week racially profiled the men who she took to be a threat, the men told BuzzFeed News.
The Alaska Airlines employee hit an alarm near Gate 30 and yelled “evacuate” around 8:30 p.m. on Labor Day, sending hundreds scrambling from the terminal. Port Authority police interviewed the men, later saying it was a false alarm and there had never been any danger.
Initial reports said the employee, who was not identified, singled out the men because they were behaving suspiciously.
Those men, however, say they were doing nothing when they were approached by the employee, who also specifically referenced the Asian heritage of the two, both of whom were born in China.
Han Han Xue, a 29-year-old from the San Francisco area, said the employee asked if he knew the other man, Chunyi Luo, 20, a student from San Francisco, who happened to be standing nearby. The men did not know each other.
She also asked them why they were behaving strangely. The men insist they were merely waiting for their flight.
Xue said he was then peppered with a series of strange questions: "How much are they paying you?" "Did they give you a visa? Did they give your family a visa? Do you make a lot of money? Do you work on Wall Street? Are you on an American visa?"
The employee did not explain who “they” were. Moments later she was seen speaking with other airline personnel at the gate before yelling "evacuate" and hitting the alarm.
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