A racist display including two toy gorillas and a noose in a baggage-screening area of Miami International Airport has two Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials on leave.
CNN obtained the photo, originally posted on the @blackpeopleofthegram Instagram page shows objects that relate to imagery historically used to dehumanize and terrorize Black people in the U.S.
The TSA said in a statement that the officers who discovered the display immediately notified management, and it was taken down. An investigation is underway.
“TSA does not tolerate racist or offensive behavior and those found responsible will be held accountable for their actions,” the statement said.
However, when CNN reported on the incident, a nameless TSA employee said the manager “tried to downplay the noose and gorilla display, saying it was just a joke.”
The employee also said the display was on a pole in the center of the TSA workstation where officers screen luggage before placing it on the plane. Though it was not visible to passengers, another source who asked CNN for anonymity for fear of retaliation said Black and Hispanic officers at the airport felt distraught.
No one has released the names of the TSA officials allegedly involved.
Though the noose has been used as an execution device throughout history, it is a generally-recognized symbol of hate against African-Americans, alluding to lynching. The image of an ape has historically — and to this day — been used to dehumanize Black people and justify treating them as subhuman.
This is not the first workplace racism case of its kind. In March, Black UPS workers in Ohio filed a lawsuit against UPS for fostering a racist, hostile work environment after other employees hung nooses and Confederate flags around the workplace and spoke about attending Ku Klux Klan meetings.
Last month, a noose was found hanging at the Boeing plant that builds the 787 airplane.
The Miami International Airport has not released any statement regarding the incident, and The New York Times reported a spokesman for the airport declined to comment.