A Black Army second lieutenant said she was discriminated against at a New Orleans casino when an employee denied her entry by claiming she wasn’t the person pictured on her military identification.
The officer, Deja Harrison, documented part of the encounter in a video she posted on her Twitter page.
“But you said I had a fake military ID, right?” Harrison says in the video as she holds up two ID cards.
“I’m not saying the ID’s fake. I’m saying that I don’t think that it’s you,” the employee responds. It’s not clear what led up to the confrontation.
Harrison moves the IDs closer to the camera and says that it is her face in the photos and that she is an E-6 rank in the Army but recently became a second lieutenant.
“You don’t believe that I’m a second lieutenant. So what’s the problem? I’m showing you my ID,” she tells the employee. “This is my picture. This is a valid military ID. This is a valid driver’s license. None of them are expired.”
The employee tells Harrison he’s going to call “NOPD” and she can explain the situation to it, referring to the New Orleans Police Department.
It’s not clear whether the employee, who is white, did, in fact, call the police on Harrison, who is Black. The police department didn’t immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.
Since Harrison posted the video last week, it had been viewed more than 290,000 times as of Wednesday afternoon. In the caption, Harrison wrote that she believes she was discriminated against because she’s a “high-ranked 23 yr old black female in the Army.”
Harrison told NBC affiliate WDSU of New Orleans that she was at Harrah’s New Orleans to celebrate her stepbrother’s 21st birthday. She said she had initially pulled out her driver’s license but that the machine the casino uses to scan IDs wouldn’t scan it. She told the station that she grabbed her military ID, instead, and that the employee questioned its validity.
Harrison said that she enlisted in the Army when she was in high school and that she was in junior ROTC all four years of school. When she graduated and joined the Army, her rank was E-2. Harrison said that she quickly moved up to E-3 and that while she was enrolled at Grambling State University in Louisiana, she contracted with ROTC to help raise her ranking even more.
When she graduated from college this year, she was commissioned as a second lieutenant in July, she said.
“I have to stick to facts,” Harrison said about why she recorded the video. “I couldn’t leave anything out. I had to make sure everyone knew the situation that was going on. Because, you know, what happens if you don’t record? You don’t have evidence. … But I just wanted everybody to know this is what I’m going through at Harrah’s.”
The casino said in a statement on Twitter: “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.”
Harrah’s said that as a result and in compliance with gaming regulations, Harrison wasn’t allowed 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,” Harrah’s said. “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.”
Harrison responded to the casino’s claims, telling News Nation Now that she told the employee that she was a second lieutenant in the Army but that her military ID still says E-6. She told the station that she had just recently become a second lieutenant and that her ID hasn’t been updated yet.
Jim DeSimone, an attorney for Harrison, told the station that they are ready to file a civil rights lawsuit.