SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — A San Francisco prosecutor is speaking out about the time he was detained at San Francisco International Airport and he is telling his story to the New York Times.
He says it was a classic case of racial profiling.
In a New York Times op-ed published Saturday titled “Seeing Danger in the Face,” Alex Bastian, spokesman for San Francisco District Attorney Gascon, detailed his hours-long detention at SFO following a trip to Armenia and Greece.
“He asked me about my trip to Armenia, whether I had attempted to sneak into Turkey or Syria during my vacation, whether I had visited any refugee camps and whether I had joined any groups like ISIS,” he wrote.
In the op-ed, Bastian, who is an Armenian-American Christian, explains how his family escaped the Lebanese civil war and meeting with those groups would have led to his abduction and beheading.
“It wasn’t until some time into my questioning that the officer asked what I did for a living,” wrote Bastian. “I told him I was a prosecutor in the San Francisco District Attorney’s office, a fact that could’ve been revealed with a simple Google search.”
Bastian says his detention ended shortly after that and he believes he was racially profiled, as he has been in the past.
In a statement to KPIX 5, a Homeland Security rep said they prohibit the consideration of race and ethnicity in screening in all but the most exceptional circumstances, saying:
“Occasionally, CBP may inconvenience law-abiding persons in our efforts to detect, deter and mitigate threats to our homeland caused by the few individuals who are involved in illicit activities.”
Toward the end of his op-ed Bastian wrote this:
“I can’t change my face, I can’t change my features, nor should I have to fly overseas in a tuxedo to make airport authorities feel more at ease.”