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Black Man with sagging pants kicked off plane and arrested, but man in panties allowed to fly

June 28, 2011

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

Lincoln Assistant Coach Kevin Doherty, left, hugs star running back Deshon Marman as Lincoln defeated Washington in the annual Academic Athletic Association (AAA) San Francisco championship high school football game in San Francisco. Now 20, Deshon plays college football on a full athletic scholarship at the University of New Mexico. – Photo: Lance Iversen, San Francisco Chronicle
Just a few days ago, a college football player was booted off a US Airways flight for having sagging pants.
As it turns out, sagging pants is considered to be worse than a man wearing nothing but a pair of panties. A
US Airways spokesperson confessed as much on Tuesday as she had to try to explain the inexplicable double

A photo of the man wearing panties was provided to the San Francisco Chronicle by Jill Tarlow, who was a
passenger on the flight. Tarlow said that quite a few passengers complained, but US Airways employees did
nothing. US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder said that she received the photo of the man in panties
before the sagging pants incident but that the employees were correct not to ask the man to cover himself up.

“We don’t have a dress code policy,” Wunder said. “Obviously, if their private parts are exposed, that’s not
appropriate … So if they’re not exposing their private parts, they’re allowed to fly.”

What’s most interesting and contradictory about Wunder’s statement is that she had nothing to say about the
incident involving Deshon Marman, a football player from the University of New Mexico. Marman had been
pulled off a flight to Albuquerque and even arrested after he refused to pull his pants up in response to an
employee’s request. Marman’s attorney says that surveillance video proves that the young man’s skin was not

Marman was taken into police custody when he refused to get up from his seat on the plane. He was then
booked on suspicion of trespassing, battery and resisting arrest. He is now at risk of having a criminal record for doing something that would have been overlooked if he’d been a white male drag queen wearing panties.

“It just shows the hypocrisy involved,” said Joe O’Sullivan, Marman’s attorney. “They let a drag queen board
a flight and welcomed him with open arms. Employees didn’t ask him to cover up. He didn’t have to talk to the
pilot. They didn’t try to remove him from the plane, and many people would find his attire repugnant.”

A woman who flew from Fort Lauderdale to Phoenix said US Airways employees ignored passengers’ complaints about this outfit, yet only six days later Deshon Marman was forced off a US Airways flight for sagging pants. The second incident prompted the woman who took this photo to submit it to the San Francisco Chronicle. – Photo: Jill Tarlow
O’Sullivan then said, “A white man is allowed to fly in underwear without question, but my client was asked to
pull up his pajama pants because they hung below his waist.”

Note to Deshon Marman: Your status as a Black man in America implies that you do not have access to basic
freedoms and liberties that other Americans can enjoy. In fact, you’re not quite a man. You get even less respect
than a drag queen wearing his underwear in public. This second class citizenship is especially prevalent when
dealing with law enforcement and corporate America, where a young Black male college student can be quickly
criminalized because he refuses to follow the orders of an overzealous and possibly racist flight attendant. It
doesn’t matter if you’re in school creating a better life for yourself; in the eyes of some, you’re simply a thug
who hasn’t yet learned his place in society.

Most interesting is that the US Airways crew member insisted upon taking Marman get off the plane after the
young man had already taken his seat. If his pants were sagging – and I am not a fan of sagging pants to be
honest – the fact that he was already seated strongly suggests that no one would be able to see the back of his
pants anyway. Their decision to push the issue even though Marman was already sitting down as well as the fact that US Airways, according to their spokesperson, does not enforce a dress code on its passengers, makes this a clear case of racial discrimination.

Someone should pay a price for this one.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To
have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, go to

Coach Ranon Ross speaks up for Deshon

Chronicle Staff Writer Justin Berton included this statement in his June 17 story

Ranon Ross, who coached Marman on youth teams and is president of the Brown Bombers, a football league in the Bayview, noted that Marman is African American and wears his hair in dreadlocks. He figures the airline
employee who told him to hitch up his pants pegged him for a thug.

“How did the request come across?” Ross asked. “Was he ordered to do it? Was he asked? Was he threatened?
He had a legal right to be there. Knowing Deshon, he probably took issue at how someone came at him and it
escalated from there.”

Ross added that Marman held a 3.0 grade point average through high school and City College of San Francisco
and that his older brother, John Marman, received an academic and athletic scholarship to West Point.

“Sometimes, when we talk about kids who come out of the Bayview and are trying to make their way out, we’re
talking about kids who don’t have a lot of hope and there’s a lot of despair,” Ross said. “Deshon Marman is not
one of those kids.”

8 thoughts on “Black Man with sagging pants kicked off plane and arrested, but man in panties allowed to fly

  1. guest

    this young brotha deserves a fat settlement for the national exploitation of this story and humiliating and racist comments made on the Yahoo main page article on the day this story made national headlines. The US Airways pretty much told on herself and the illegal manner in which he was harassed by admitting there is no dress code. therefore, there was no legal basis for the orders to pull up his pants. but you never know what kind of harassment youll get at airlines today. A 95 year old got a pat down and asked to remove adult diaper because of suspicious "content" in the diaper. Sigh. America.

  2. guest

    the camera phone footage captured by a passenger of Deshon being harassed by the captain proves his demeanor was calm, composed, free of profanity, cooperative, and diplomatic. the manner and degree to which he was harassed was completely out of line, excessive, and with the intent to wave authority and intimidate him. any person in this same situation may have snapped anytime in the brief length of time the footage captured, but he tried to calmly explain himself and end the whole mess…this whole incident was damn fascist.

    1. Seamus

      Why would someone "snap" when an airline captain and an air cop ask you to go speak with them about a complaint?? & Deshon was not cooperative. He interrupted the captain and cop whenever they tried to speak and then he cut them off saying they were done talking to him. I'm glad my work comrades aren't that kind of cooperative at my job or oofta, nothing would get done.

  3. Seamus

    I think Deshon Marman would have served himself (and everyone else) if he had just cooperated rather than talking over the captain and refusing to let him speak. Being uncooperative with airline captains and air police will result in uncooperative-ness even if the initial contact was about wearing eye glasses made of bubble gum, or similar harmless whatever.

    People probably complained about Marmon and (probably) no wanted to even make eye contact with the panty-pants guy. lol

  4. Seamus

    I think Mr. Marman should be fined for disrupting the flight. All he had to do was pull his pants up so his butt wasn't sticking out. Then, he was uncooperative with the captain of the plane and a cop. There's other people to think about on a plane.

    All he had to do was pull his pants up. But, I guess Mr. Marman has some growing up to do first.


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