Black Army officer suing Harrah’s New Orleans after casino entry denial

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(Courtesy: Deja Harrison)

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CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — A Black servicewoman is suing a New Orleans casino after security officers refused to let her inside, claiming she was not the woman pictured in her military ID.

U.S Army 2nd Lt. Deja Harrison and her family planned to celebrate her stepbrother’s 21st birthday at Harrah’s Casino on Oct. 5. But before the celebration could begin, casino security told her she wasn’t allowed to enter the facility with the IDs she provided.

Harrison said the employee checking her ID questioned the validity of it.

“I mean, not only was it humiliating, but I was just shocked and appalled,” Harrison told NewsNation. “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 even after explaining that her ID was real, the employee still denied access, so she pulled out her cellphone to record the incident.

In the now-viral cellphone video of the incident, which has been viewed on Twitter more than 280,000 times, the employee said the IDs were real but didn’t believe Harrison was the person pictured on them.

“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 explained.

Harrison repeatedly tried to prove her identity, but the employee could be heard in the video saying he’d call the New Orleans Police Department so she could explain it to them. He then went over, picked up the phone, and appeared to call. Harrison said she waited two hours for the police, but they never came.

“I decided to stand there, stand up for myself because I was not in the wrong.”

James Desimone, Harrison’s attorney, said he and a team of attorneys in Louisiana are ready to file a civil lawsuit on Harrison’s behalf.

“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,” Desimone said. “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.”

Harrah’s released the following statement via their Twitter account:

“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.”

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