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Local civil rights leaders respond to claims of TSA racial profiling

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A local civil rights group has responded to alleged claims of racial profiling at the Minneapolis TSA office.

Last week, Andrew Rhoades, a TSA manager in Minneapolis, told U.S. lawmakers that he was asked to target Somali travelers.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) along with local community leaders held a press conference on Monday at the Abubakar Islamic Center to address those allegations.

CAIR-MN posted photos and quotes from the press conference to their Facebook page.

"If we're going to profile people, specifically Somali Americans for just visiting and asking questions about travel issues. That is extremely troubling for our community," CAIR-MN's executive director Jaylani Hussein said.

The council and community leaders have called on the Department of Homeland Security to conduct an independent investigation to "take a close look at what the TSA here in Minnesota is doing," the posts said.

The Star Tribune posted a video of speakers at the press conference. Besides requesting assurance that racial profiling will not happen again with the TSA in Minnesota, they also praised Rhoades for coming forward.

"We extend our deepest gratitude and appreciation for Mr. Rhoades for standing up against discrimination and protecting the integrity of the TSA. We are proud of his courage and his faithfulness, and we hope that he is a model for law enforcement officials," Hussein says in the video.

Senator Al Franken has asked the TSA for an investigation

Franken wrote a letter to TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger to express "serious concerns" about reports that Rhoades was instructed to provide information about Somali-American leaders visiting TSA offices so they could be checked for terrorist ties.

“Minnesota is home to the nation’s largest Somali-American population—a vibrant community that I’m proud to represent in the Senate,” Sen. Franken wrote in the letter. “As you know, racial and ethnic profiling undermines trust in the authorities and causes resentment among targeted groups. I therefore request that you immediately open an investigation into these reports.”

Sen. Franken said he will continue to monitor the situation to ensure TSA takes action on the racial profiling reports, his office said in a news release.

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