A witness

A letter from someone who was aboard United flight 3411 when it all went wrong:

Unfortunately, I was aboard United Airlines flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville, Ky., on Sunday. Even more unfortunate was the fact that I was returning from a spring break trip with seven of my students from Louisville Male High School who also witnessed the unconscionable treatment of the passenger.

The disgusting mishandling of the situation included everyone from the rude ticket agent who demanded that this man give up his seat on the flight United overbooked, to one of the officers laughing in the midst of the incident, to the violent, abusive way the passenger was dragged off the plane by the officer. It was the worst possible model for my students, and frankly, was traumatizing to many of us who watched this from such close proximity.

The reporting said that a high school teacher got off with a group of students, saying they didn’t need to see any more of that kind of thing. Perhaps this is that teacher.

I was appalled at how United Airlines and the officers handled the situation, but I was also encouraged by my fellow passengers’ attempts to interfere — despite how helpless we all felt. Some passengers audibly protested to the officers, some stood and removed themselves from the plane rather than continue to witness the abuse, and one father, while trying to console his 8-year-old daughter, confronted the officer saying, among other things, “you ought to be ashamed of yourself!” These are the models of which I hope our children will see more.

— Jason Powell, Louisville, Ky.

Really though I’d rather children didn’t see the kind of violent bullying that calls for people to resist. I’d like this whole fashion for bullying to go away.


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