NYC Ferry Denied 3 Muslim Families Boarding Over ‘Security Issue': Complaint

What to Know

  • Three mothers, two of whom were wearing a hijab, and their eight children were denied service to an NYC Ferry last month, a complaint said
  • The Council on American-Islamic Relations filed the complaint on behalf of the families who said they were humiliated and discriminated
  • NYC Ferry said the incident was a "misunderstanding" and reimbursed the fare for the complainants

New York City and its the NYC Ferry have been accused of discrimination after three Muslim families said they were denied boarding because of a "security issue."

Three mothers, two of whom were wearing a hijab, and their eight children met up in Bay Ridge on Sept. 21 to board the ferry to Wall St. and enjoy the day together. That ferry ride went without a hitch but when they tried to re-board the Wall St. ferry later that day, two employees denied them service, according to the complaint filed by the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The male and female HNY Ferry employees had allowed the families who had several children as well as a double stroller for two infants to wait on the side as everyone in line boarded the ferry, the complaint said.

But when it was the families' turn to board, the employees said security had informed them of an issue. The women and the children were then escorted away to security as witnesses on the ferry watched.

"These families were humiliated and traumatized in public view and treated as suspect because they happen to be Muslim. That is unacceptable. We hope the City will live up to its commitment of nondiscrimination and swiftly correct this injustice," CAIR-NY Litigation Director Ahmed Mohamed said in a statement.

The security personnel the women spoke to said they didn't understand why the two NYC ferry employees were blaming security, according to the complaint. That's when a third employee told one of the women 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 families waited two hours before they were eventually allowed to board another ferry but the delay resulted in the cancellations of their plan so they decided to return to Bay Ridge.

In a statement to News 4, a NYC Economic Development Corporation spokesperson said the organization, which operates the ferry, is aware of the complaint and is investigating the incident.

"NYCEDC takes these matters seriously, and is committed to ensuring that no person is denied the services based on race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, gender identity or disability," the spokesperson said.

The complaint alleged that the families' 4-year-old and 5-year-old children were distraught by the incident and wondered why they weren't allowed on the ferry.

In addition, another employee who had serviced the families earlier in the day said she didn't recall any of the children behaving badly and that the families were "good customers."

NYC Ferry said the incident was a "misunderstanding" and reimbursed the fare for the complainants after "conceding that the proffered reason was false," the complaint said.

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