CLAIM: Videos show Capitol rioters who were removed from flights because they are on the federal no-fly list.
THE FACTS: After a violent mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, social media users began sharing videos of people in airports or being escorted from planes with claims that they had been placed on the federal no-fly list for taking part in the Capitol insurrection. Two videos that circulated widely involved passengers who were removed from American Airlines flights that originated at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina. The incidents occurred before Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday called on the FBI to add anyone who was identified breaching the Capitol last week to the no-fly list, part of the U.S. government’s Terrorist Screening Database.
American Airlines reviewed the videos and confirmed to The Associated Press that in both incidents the people were removed because they refused to wear face masks as mandated by the airline in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The FBI, which manages the list, said in a statement that it’s considering adding Capitol rioters.
One tweeted video, viewed more than 20 million times, shows a man who is visibly upset, yelling in the airport’s boarding area on Jan. 8, saying he was removed from the flight. Social media users who reposted the video falsely claimed it was because he was a Capitol rioter who was on the no-fly list. The video, first posted to TikTok on Jan. 10, captures the man yelling profanities. “But this is what they do to us. They kicked me off the plane. They called me a f------ Karen. And they want to f------ ruin my life,” he says. American Airlines spokesperson Derek Walls told The Associated Press in an email that the customer was asked to deplane “for refusing to comply with our mandatory face covering policy.” The incident happened last week on a flight from Charlotte to Denver, according to the statement.
For months airlines have enforced mask policies introduced to help prevent transmission of COVID-19. “Those unwilling to comply with American’s face covering policy at any time during their journey may be denied boarding or barred from future travel for the duration of this policy,” Walls wrote. Another clip shows federal air marshals escorting a woman from her seat after an American flight landed because she refused to wear her face mask. Passengers clapped while officers followed her out of the flight. “Another one #NoFlyList,” falsely wrote one Twitter user, who shared the video. The post had over 600,000 views. However, a Twitter user shared an earlier video showing a scene that led up to the incident. In the clip, the woman isn’t wearing her face mask and yells, “If we don’t stand up, it’s only going to get worse.” Passengers on the plane can be heard in the video saying, “Put your mask on.” Walls said the incident occurred on Jan. 11, during an American Airlines flight from Charlotte to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. “Following multiple requests to comply with mandatory face covering requirements, one passenger stood up and began yelling at flight attendants and surrounding customers,” Walls said. “Federal Air Marshals intervened to help de-escalate and maintain control of the situation for the duration of the flight."
— Associated Press writer Arijeta Lajka in New York reported this item.