Marlon Wayans Claims Racial Discrimination In Denver Airport Dispute

Comedian Marlon Wayans said he is unjustly facing a disturbing the peace charge over a dispute with an United Airlines employee, according to the Associated Press.

Wayans alleges that the airline employee singled him out in their dispute due to his race. His attorneys filed court documents on Oct. 19 requesting the dismissal of the case related to a luggage disagreement at Denver’s airport.

Wayans, who is Black, received a citation for disturbing the peace, a municipal violation, in June.

The incident reportedly began when a United Airlines gate agent informed him he couldn’t board a flight to Kansas City with three bags. Despite his efforts to consolidate his luggage into two bags to adhere to airline policy, the gate agent allegedly attempted to physically block him from boarding. Wayans managed to board the flightbut was asked to disembark before the plane’s departure.

According to Wayans’ court filing, the gate agent permitted white passengers with three bags to board the flight while Wayans rearranged his luggage. The court filing also included still photos from surveillance video showing white passengers with yellow arrows indicating each of their bags. Approximately 140 individuals boarded the flight, with many carrying three bags and oversized bags that violated the airline’s policy.

Wayans’ legal team accuse the gate agent of racial discrimination against Wayans. By continuing to pursue charges against him, they argue that Denver prosecutors perpetuate that discrimination and deny his right to equal protection under the law. 

“The City of Denver’s position is an affront to constitutional and social equity principles,” Wayans’ legal team said.

At the time of the incident, United Airlines released a statement asserting that an unidentified customer “pushed past” an employee at the jet bridge and attempted to board the plane.

However, statements recorded on police body cameras and referenced in the court filing provide an alternative perspective. The gate agent informed officers that Wayans had “shoved,” “pushed,” or “elbowed” him as the comedian boarded the plane. Wayans’ lawyers claim this is a false representation and suggest that the agent may have had minor shoulder-to-shoulder contact with Wayans as he was boarding.

The police officers involved in the investigation expressed doubt that any criminal activity had taken place, according to the court filing. The gate agent requested charges to be pursued.

The city attorney’s office did respond to the Associated Press’s requests for comment while United Airlines did not reply to an email seeking comment.