Advancing Justice Demands Thorough Investigation Regarding Removal of United Passenger

The Advancing Justice affiliation condemns the violent incident and calls for an investigation
For Immediate Release
Michelle Boykins (202) 296-2300, ext. 0144

Washington, DC — Asian Americans Advancing Justice condemns the unconscionable violent removal of a United Airlines passenger and demands a thorough investigation and policy changes.  

On April 9, 2017, United Airlines flight 3411 from Chicago, IL to Louisville, KY, and asked passengers to volunteer to disembark the plane in order to make room for United employees.  When United ordered passenger Dr. David Dao – who was already seated – to give up his seat to be re-accommodated on another flight and he refused, three Chicago Department of Aviation security officers forcibly pulled the 69-year-old Dao out of his seat, banging his head on an armrest, and then dragged him by his arms off of the plane. The altercation was caught on camera and shared online by several passengers who witnessed the event. While United Airline’s CEO Oscar Munoz has now issued a formal apology, he initially defended this conduct and evaded commenting on the violence employed in removing a paying passenger from the aircraft.

While it has been reported by the media that United Airlines uses a mix of random computer selection and gate staff discretion to determine who should have to give up a seat on an overbooked flight, there are witness accounts that Dr. Dao said during the incident that he felt targeted for being Asian.

Amid the current political climate in the U.S., where racial profiling by law enforcement persists and immigrants and people of color face increasing bigotry, it is extremely troubling that an elderly Asian American man was the victim of excessive force that left him bloodied and disoriented. Unfortunately, this incident is indicative of the larger issue of law enforcement misconduct against communities of color, particularly African Americans.

Moreover, media reports attempting to “blame the victim” by raising irrelevant issues of Dr. Dao’s past is another tactic that has often been used to shift attention away from the mistreatment of people of color. This incident contributes to our community’s increasing fear of bigotry but is also an opportunity for greater solidarity among communities of color.

Advancing Justice is demanding a full and transparent investigation of the incident, a full examination of airline policies of allowing the overbooking of flights and expecting passengers to bear the brunt of this corporate practice, and greater accountability from the Chicago Department of Aviation security officers and United Airlines regarding the use of racial profiling and excessive force.