Detroit airport (Derek KT W)
If you read nothing but the headlines on the AP article, you get the idea that police were doing these folks a favor: No charges filed against three detained at Detroit airport. See? No harm, no foul. In fact, the AP article concentrates on the fright given the passengers after the plane was redirected from its normal gate and boarded by a SWAT team.
"I said, `Oh my God,'" Duggan said. "All of a sudden, a SWAT team went through and saying, `Please place your hands on the seat in front of you.'"Not only did the police board the plane with dogs and lead three passengers away in handcuffs, the North American Aerospace Defense Command scrambled two F-16 fighters to shadow the plane from Denver to Detroit. All of which sounds as if there must have been cause for serious concern.
The police had three dogs with them, she said. After leading the three cuffed passengers away, police asked the remaining passengers to board buses and took them to the Romulus police headquarters for interviews, Duggan said.
However, when you read Shoshana Hebshi's blog Stories from the Heartland, you get a very different picture of what happened.
Before I knew it, about 10 cops, some in what looked like military fatigues, were running toward the plane carrying the biggest machine guns I have ever seen–bigger than what the guards carry at French train stations.After hours of questioning, it became clear that the only reason that the three of them were being held was that they looked vaguely as if they might be ... Arabic? Muslim? Brown. And just happened to be seated together. None of them knew each other. The seat assignments came from Frontier airline. The three didn't even talk until the plane had landed. However, that didn't stop the flight crew at Frontier from getting on the radio and calling for help. The suspicious behavior that warranted this action? Both of the men went to the bathroom. What landed Ms. Hebshi in handcuffs? She didn't know the men, didn't talk to them, didn't even go to the bathroom. But of course, she had ... a look.
My last tweet:
Majorly armed cops coming aboard
Someone shouted for us to place our hands on the seats in front of us, heads down. The cops ran down the aisle, stopped at my row and yelled at the three of us to get up. “Can I bring my phone?” I asked, of course. What a cliffhanger for my Twitter followers! No, one of the cops said, grabbing my arm a little harder than I would have liked. He slapped metal cuffs on my wrists and pushed me off the plane. The three of us, two Indian men living in the Detroit metro area, and me, a half-Arab, half-Jewish housewife living in suburban Ohio, were being detained.
No one is asking that either officers or airline attendants ignore threats. However, when pure racial profiling is rewarded by massive overreaction and hordes of attention, it only feeds on itself. The passengers go home shivering over the scare they got by sharing a plane with a brown person. Those taken in for no reason go home in humiliation, with poisonous looks from everyone they pass. Their stories are very different.
This is not precaution, it's paranoia. It's not safety, it's cowardice. It shouldn't be America 10 years after 9/11, but it is.