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Jewish family removed from Spirit Airlines flight for 2-year-old not wearing mask

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Spirit Airlines is defending its decision to deplane a flight after a Jewish couple and their two children were thrown off a flight because their two-year-old was not wearing a mask while eating on her pregnant mother’s lap.

Spirit requires passengers to wear masks with the exception of children two-years-old and under.

The flight from Orlando, Florida, to Atlantic City, New Jersey, was ultimately delayed more than two hours on Monday after passengers were forced to get off the plane before eventually being allowed back on.

In a viral video shared to Twitter, a flight attendant is seen telling the Jewish family that they needed to “take their stuff” and exit the plane for “non-compliance with the mask policy” while the two-year-old is eating yogurt on her mother’s lap.

“The baby?” The pregnant mother replied.

A woman seated across from the family pointed out that many of the children on the fight were not wearing masks.

“She’s a baby. She just turned 2 a month ago. She’s been trying to wear it,” the mother explained to the attendant.

The parents are heard telling the attendant that their other child is special needs and has seizures.

“We’re done talking. The pilot wants you off, so you have to get off,” the flight attendant said.

The attendant then threatened to call the police before walking away.

In a separate clip, the father said he heard from another passenger that they were planning to remove them from the flight before they even boarded.

“A lady over here heard someone on the phone before we even got on the plane that they were planning this,” he said.

“The captain was okay with it, the entire plane was okay with it but there was one African American that was not okay with it,” he added.

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A statement released on Twitter by Spirit Airlines claims “incorrect information” is circulating about the incident.

“We’re aware of incorrect information circulating about Spirit Airlines flight 138 from Orlando to Atlantic City. The flight was delayed due to compliance issues with the federal mask requirement. We allowed our Guests to continue on their flight to the destination after assurances of compliance. The safety of our Guests and Team Members is our top priority,” the airline said.

Moreover, Spirit told Business Insider that they asked the family to exit the plane because the parents were not complying with mask mandates, which the company said was not captured on video.

Additionally, the Orlando police confirmed to Newsweek that they were called by Spirit team members.

“Just before noon today, our officers were called to a general disturbance involving a Spirit Airlines flight scheduled to depart from the Orlando International Airport,” a police spokesperson told Newsweek. “Upon arrival, officers saw that the flight was in the middle of de-boarding. Our officers stood by while Spirit Airlines resolved the issue.”

Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy

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Minnesota farmer’s lawsuit prompts removal of race and sex-based grant program

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Five months after Minnesota farmer Lance Nistler filed a federal lawsuit with the help of the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), the state has removed race- and sex-based preferences from its Down Payment Assistance Grant Program. This significant policy change followed Nistler’s legal challenge, which highlighted the discriminatory nature of the program’s selection process.

Pacific Legal Foundation writes involvement in Nistler’s case drew attention and criticism from Minnesota progressives. Writing in the Minnesota Reformer, Sigrid Jewett accused PLF of using Nistler “as a pawn in a larger culture war game.” She questioned why a California-based legal firm with numerous Supreme Court victories would be interested in representing a small Minnesota farmer pro bono.

PLF opposes all race- and sex-based preferences in the law, and that’s the real reason the firm chose to represent Nistler. The foundation stands against discrimination in various domains, including government board selections, school admissions, government contracts, and grant distributions, such as in Nistler’s case.

Here are the facts: Minnesota’s Down Payment Assistance Grant Program offers up to $15,000 toward the purchase of farmland. Recipients are chosen through a lottery system. However, before the policy change, even if a recipient was among the first picked through the lottery—as Nistler was, being selected ninth—they could be bumped to the back of the line if they were not a racial minority, female, LGBTQIA+, or otherwise designated as an “emerging” farmer by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Despite being chosen ninth in the lottery, which awarded grants to 68 applicants, Nistler did not receive a grant. He was moved from ninth to 102nd on the waitlist because he is a white male.

Nistler grew up on his family farm, milking cows. “They would lose money every year,” he says of the family operation. After he left for school, his family sold the cows and switched to farming soybeans, oats, and wheat. Lance’s father and uncle now run the farm, but they’re getting older. Lance, who has a degree in electronic engineering and worked in HVAC, is interested in buying a 40-acre chunk of the family farm, becoming the fourth-generation farmer in his family.

The land isn’t just going to be given to Lance. This is a working farm, and the Nistlers aren’t a wealthy family that can transfer land from one generation to the next without consideration. “My dad and uncle, they don’t have 401(k)s or anything,” Lance says. “I mean, the land and the equipment, that’s their retirement. This stuff isn’t given away. I’m not just going to get it handed down to me and inherited. It has to be purchased, and it is not cheap.”

Despite being from a farming family, Lance considers himself a new farmer—he has never owned farmland before, and he has an electronics background. Buying these 40 acres would be a huge step for Lance, planting him firmly in the farming world, which is what Minnesota’s grant program aimed to do. The idea that he would have qualified as an emerging farmer if only his skin were a different color struck Lance as wrong.

“The country we live in, the idea is it’s equal opportunity for everyone,” he says. “And if that’s what it is, then well, why shouldn’t I have the same chances?”

When Lance filed his lawsuit in January, the complaint argued that the discriminatory process violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. The complaint stated:

“Nistler brings this lawsuit to vindicate his constitutional right to equal protection of the law. He brings it to give all Minnesotans a fair chance at a difference-making grant program. He brings it in the hope that he will be able to own that small farm in the near future. He brings it because he is not giving up on his dream.”

In May, after Lance called attention to the unconstitutional policy, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed legislation removing the race and sex prioritization from the program. Now, Minnesota will treat farmers equally—as the Constitution promises.

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