A 23-year-old Black U.S. Army second lieutenant is suing a New Orleans casino after security denied her entry into the establishment because they thought the person pictured in her military ID wasn’t her.
According to WFXR, the October 5 incident occurred when Deja Harrison and her family went to Harrah’s Casino to celebrate her stepbrother’s 21st birthday. Harrison said casino security informed her they weren’t going to allow her to enter because of ID issues. She added that the employee who checked her ID questioned its authenticity.
“I mean, not only was it humiliating, but I was just shocked and appalled,” Harrison said. “You know, I immediately started telling him, you know I’m a second lieutenant now, I just commissioned this summer after I graduated camp.”
Harrison said she started recording the encounter after the employee still denied her access despite explaining her ID was indeed valid. The video of the incident, which she shared on Twitter, has been viewed over 290,000 times.
In the video, the employee can be heard saying the IDs are genuine though he doesn’t think the woman pictured on them is Harrison. “I started making the video, and I’m literally showing him, I have my vaccination card, I’m fully vaccinated. I even showed one of the staff members my Army paystub. I had a valid state driver’s license, I had a valid military ID, and I was still denied access to this casino,” Harrison said.
The 23-year-old’s repeated efforts to prove the validity of her IDs proved futile, and the employee, at a certain point, said he was going to call the police on her. The employee was subsequently seen making what appeared to be a call. But Harrison said she waited for the police for two hours and they didn’t show up.
“I decided to stand there, stand up for myself because I was not in the wrong,” she told WFXR.
I showed 2 forms of photo I.D and even my Army paystub.
I shouldn’t be discriminated against just bc I’m a high-ranked 23 yr old black female in the Army! pic.twitter.com/ziIFUz6XsX
— Deja Harrison (@dejaharrisontv) October 5, 2021
Harrison enlisted to join the U.S. army when she was in high school. She completed the four-year JROTC program before eventually studying at Grambling State University and joining the ROTC, WDSU reported. She was commissioned to second lieutenant after graduating from Grambling this year.
“We’re absolutely willing to go to the bat for Lt. Harrison. This manager clearly engaged in stereotypical thinking and implicit bias; he could not believe that a young black woman had achieved the rank that she did through her hard work and dedication in the Army,” Harrison’s attorney, James Desimone, told WFXR. “This violates Louisiana human rights laws and that he’s engaging in those stereotypes he’s denying her access to a public facility based on her race.”
Responding to the incident and the suit in a statement, Harrah’s Casino said:
To comply with gaming regulations, Harrah’s New Orleans checks IDs for our guests who appear to be under 30 years old. To do so, we use an approved electronic reader, similar to what you would find at an airport TSA checkpoint. Our Team Members are trained to evaluate identification in accordance with local regulations. In this case, Ms. Harrison, who appeared to be under 30, presented a Louisiana driver’s license that did not clear our electronic verification system. When asked for an alternative form of identification, she presented a military ID card, but the information on the military ID card did not match the information she had verbally communicated to our security officers. As a result, in compliance with applicable gaming regulations, our security officers did not permit Ms. Harrison to enter the casino. Caesars Entertainment has an unwavering commitment to diversity and our military. We are saddened by this situation and will continue to evaluate our processes to ensure that we uphold both our commitment to our guests and our regulators. We have reached out to Ms. Harrison, who let us know she will be retaining legal counsel; as such, we will have no further comment.