Shoshana Hebshi – a mother of two, born and raised in the USA – was forcibly removed from an aeroplane on September 11, 2011, even though she had not done anything suspicious.
The only possible explanation: she was racially profiled and targeted because of her ethnicity.
Since this post was written, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a complaint against the airline and airport officials and federal authorities for Shoshana’s unlawful arrest, strip search and detention. This is her story.
Silly me. I thought flying on 9/11 would be easy. I figured most people would choose not to fly that day so lines would be short, planes would be lightly filled and though security might be ratcheted up, we’d all feel safer knowing we had come a long way since that dreadful Tuesday morning 10 years ago.
But then armed officers stormed my plane, threw me in handcuffs and locked me up.
My flight from Denver landed in Detroit on time. I sent a text message to my husband to let him know we had landed and I would be home by dinner.
The plane stopped on the tarmac, seemingly waiting to have the gate cleared. We waited. I played on my phone, checking Facebook, scrolling through my Twitter feed.
After a while of sitting there, I decided to call my husband to tell him the plane was being delayed and I would call him when I got off the plane.
Just as I hung up the phone, the captain came over the loudspeaker and announced that the airport authorities wanted to move the airplane to a different part of the airport. Must be a blocked gate or something, I thought. But then he said: Everyone remain in your seats or there will be consequences.
I looked out the window and saw a squadron of police cars following the plane, lights flashing. I turned to my neighbor, who happened to be an Indian man, in wonderment. What is going on? Others on the plane were remarking at the police as well. Getting a little uneasy, I decided the best thing for me to do was to tweet about the experience. If the plane was going to blow up, at least there’d be some record on my part.
Stuck on a plane at Detroit airport…cops everywhere
Soon the plane was stopping in some remote part of the airport, far from any buildings, and out the window I see more police cars coming to surround the plane. Maybe there’s a fugitive on the plane, I say to my neighbor, who is also texting and now shooting some photos of the scene outside. He asks me to take a few, as I have a better angle from my window seat. A few dozen uniformed and plainclothes officers are huddled off the side of the plane. I don’t see any guns, and it isn’t clear what’s going on.
So I continued to tweet:
A little concerned about this situation. Plane moved away from terminal surrounded by cops. Crew is mum. Passengers can’t get up.
Then what looked like the bomb squad pulled up. Two police vans and a police communication center bus parked off the road. I started to get nervous and rethink my decision to fly on 9/11.