CHICAGO –Members of the Asian American and Muslim communities protested outside the United terminal Tuesday night after a now-suspended Chicago Department of Aviation police officer yanked Dr. David Dao of Louisville out of his seat, and then dragged him down the aisle of United flight 3411 Sunday night.
“This level of police enforcement and its sanctioning should be appalling to everyone,” said Tuyet Le of the Asian American Coalition.
“We also question whether if we replaced this with someone who was white we question whether the same level of treatment and escalation of violence would have happened,” Le said.
Dao was one of four randomly selected passengers asked to give up their seat to make room for stand-by employees. After refusing, crew members called the officers on board. United offered Dao $800 and a hotel stay to take a flight out the next afternoon but he wasn’t interested.
According to a Chicago attorney, Dr. David Dao is still in the Chicago area receiving treatment at a local hospital. The family of Dr Dao wants the world to know that they are very appreciative of the outpouring of prayers, concern and support they have received.
“This could have been averted if there was any common sense, any human component to the policy; what we have is this blind policy that hides behind the term security to give impunity to airlines to do whatever they want to their customers,” said CAIR’s Ahmed Rahed.
It’s an incident that has caused fallout for Dao’s reputation and United’s. It’s also touched a nerve here in Chicago all the way to the White House.
“Clearly, when you watch the video, it is troubling to see how that was handled,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said when asked about the episode at Tuesday’s White House briefing.
Today, United CEO Oscar Munoz apologized again for the incident saying “It’s never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again. I promise you we can do better.”
Representative Dan Lipinski who sits on the House Transportation Committee says he plans to create an amendment to the FAA authorization bill next month to make sure this type of situation isn’t repeated.
“Airlines have to offer enough compensation for people to voluntarily leave a flight or give up their seat the airlines should not be allowed to randomly choose people to kick off a flight,” he said.
Congresswoman Jan Schawkowsky also said she wants to change policies so passengers can’t be taken off a plane against their will. She also wants to introduce legislation that would require that all negotiations to get volunteers to give up their seats take place in the terminal at the gate, not after passengers have boarded the plane.
“I am considering legislation that would say, ‘no involuntary removal from airplanes,'” Schakowsky said.
She’s one of more than 20 federal lawmakers who have signed on to changing policy after this incident so far.
Senator Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth are on board as well, wanting a hearing and investigation to find out a number of things, including how many times United has forcibly removed passengers, why the full amount of $1,350 was not offered in flight vouchers on this flight, and if the airline could have provided alternate transportation to its stand-by employees.
This issue will also be taken up locally at Thursday’s City Council meeting.