Brandon Straka, a gay Donald Trump supporter, made national news on Wednesday after he was booted from an American Airlines flight for refusing to wear a face covering, in what is believed to be the first incident of its kind in the U.S.
New York Times reporter Astead Herndon, who was also on board the flight from New York’s LaGuardia to Dallas-Fort Worth, captured video of the incident that’s been viewed more than 500,000 times on Twitter.
“Sir, are you wishing not to wear a mask today?” a flight attendant asked Straka.
“I would prefer not to,” Straka replied. “You’re asking me to do something that’s not a law.”
The flight attendant proceeded to explain that the mask requirement is an American Airlines rule.
The Hill reports: There is currently no law that mandates passengers must wear masks while on a flight, but all major U.S. airlines, including American, announced on May 11 new policies that call on all passengers and flight crew members to wear face coverings. Exceptions are provided for children, people with certain medical conditions and for while passengers are eating and drinking. Straka told the flight attendant he had a medical condition, but did not specify what the condition was and did not provide any documentation regarding it. He was eventually ejected from the flight after a delay, drawing applause from passengers.
Straka later posted a video from inside a terminal after being kicked off the flight.
“This is insane,” Straka said in the video. “These people have gone absolutely nuts. So, they’re trying to rebook me on another flight right now, and I think they’re going to force me to wear a mask to be able to take their flight. … This is insane, absolutely insane. We don’t even have a choice anymore, and it’s not the law. Just so you know, it’s not the law.”
More from CNN: American Airlines confirmed the incident aboard Flight 1263 from New York’s LaGuardia to Dallas/Fort Worth, saying that Straka declined to wear a face covering. “After he refused to comply with the instructions provided by the flight crew, our team members asked him to deplane. He deplaned and the flight departed the gate four minutes late at 12:34 p.m. ET,” the airline said in a statement. Straka was rebooked on a later flight after he agreed to comply with company policies, the airline said, and American is reaching out to him for more information on the incident.
Straka later compared airlines requiring masks to bakers who refuse to serve same-sex couples.
In 2018, Straka earned praise from President Donald Trump after founding the #WalkAway Campaign, which “encourages and supports those on the Left to walk away from the divisive tenets endorsed and mandated by the Democratic Party of today.”
The campaign also sells masks for $20.