Australian adult film actress Elle Knox claimed she was removed from a United Airlines flight after she gave a speech about George Floyd's death. Knox said she was on a flight from Houston to San Francisco to make a connection back to Sydney on Tuesday when she offered her thoughts on the situation. A United Airlines spokesman said Knox was pulled off the plane because she refused to stay seated while the plane was still on the runway.
In a series of tweets, the 28-year-old Knox said she stood up to speak the moment her plane landed. "This isn't my country, I'm an Australian. But I've noticed your democracy being threatened," Knox said, according to her tweets. "Do not be complacent. Decide what side of history you'd like to be on." Some travelers "felt threatened" and called police, Knox said. She was escorted off the plane and claims she was told she could not make "police statements" on the plane.
They are deciding if I’ll be allowed to take my next flight to Sydney... pic.twitter.com/YdpS4T6XvS— Elle Knox 🌙🌻 (@ElleKnoxxxAu) June 2, 2020
United Airlines spokesman Frank Benati told the New York Post Knox was escorted off the plane because she "got up and started yelling" right as the plane landed. "You can't stand on an active runway. Nobody can. It's a safety issue," he said, adding that the content of Knox's speech had nothing to do with the situation. The airline also confirmed Knox apologized and was allowed to continue to Syndey.
"This customer refused to follow strict crewmember instructions about standing up while our flight attendants were in their jump seats and the aircraft was taxiing on the runway," the airline said. "Law enforcement involvement was entirely due to the safety and security of the passengers, crew, and the aircraft itself. After speaking with the customer regarding this incident — who later apologized for her actions — she was allowed to continue her journey to Sydney."
One Twitter user asked Knox why she did not just attend a protest. She said she would if she could, but cannot, so she "used my voice where I could." She would "rather do what I did than stay silent," she explained. "I had a chance for 300+ people to hear what I had to say & I took it."
The death of Floyd in Minneapolis police custody inspired Black Lives Matter protests around the world, including in Australia. On Saturday, 10,000 people protested in Sydney after a court overturned an injunction ruling protests illegal due to social distancing restrictions, reports CNN. There were also protests in Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide.
The protests were organized by indigenous rights groups, who called for justice in several cases of deaths in police custody. In Sydney, protesters found similarities between Floyd's death and the 2015 death of David Dungay, an Aboriginal man who died in a prison. His family said Dungay's last words were "I can't breathe," just like Floyd. Dungay died after he was restrained by at least four prison officers, according to his family's lawyer, and his family wants the officers to face criminal charges.