Arlinda Johns, a South Florida activist better known locally as Trey, was due to fly from Charlotte to Illinois when she was reprimanded for wearing a mask saying “F*** 12”, slang for “F*** the police”.
“I think I got taken off the plane because I’m black,” Ms Johns told Florida’s Local 10 news station.
She was also wearing a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt.
In a Facebook Live video she filmed during the incident, Ms Johns claimed a flight attendant asked her to cover up her mask, which she duly did.
“Everything she asked me to do, I did,” claimed Ms Johns.
However, the plane was returned to the gate and she was then escorted off the aircraft before take-off.
American Airlines told The Independent in a statement that the decision to remove Ms Johns from the flight was taken after she “refused to follow crew member instructions to remove or cover a face mask with offensive language.“
The carrier claims that, although Ms Johns was offered an alternative face covering and initially complied by wearing it, she “later continued to display the inappropriate language. After arriving at the gate, the passenger was asked to deplane.”
American Airlines says “offensive clothing”, such as clothing with swear words on, is not permitted under its conditions of carriage.
In her Facebook Live video, Ms Johns said she was “so f***ing mad right now” after to being kicked off the flight.
American Airlines has since said it is looking into the incident and plans to refund the unused portion of Ms Johns’ ticket, although she claims no one from the airline has been in touch, other than in response to one of her tweets.
Ms Johns also claims that she was forced to rent a car and drive to her destination, a journey of more than 700 miles, after being removed from the flight.