The internet has brought massive change to the world. Especially for those who know how to use it positively; they have made it a tool to protect the weak from the aggression of the strong. The internet is giving a voice to the voiceless, and the 1% in our society is now feeling the heat. No wonder Senator Jay Rockefeller of the Rockefeller family once said the internet shouldn’t have been invented.
On April 10, a damning video went viral on the internet in which a man was seen being dragged violently by security officials from a United Airlines flight, travelling from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Louisville, Kentucky.
The incident was said to have happened on April 9, and was captured on video by several passengers who were on the flight. A passenger named Audra Bridges first posted the incriminating video on Facebook.
According to the account of the story, the man wasn’t a suspected terrorist or a criminal. He had legally booked his flight and had paid for it. Due to negligence of its duties, United Airlines overbooked the flight. When the plane was ready for takeoff, officials found the overbooking. They then asked four passengers to volunteer and leave the plane so that the overbooking problem could be resolved.
Three passengers did volunteer and left the plane. But nobody else was ready to give up their seat and be the fourth. Randomly, flight attendants selected the man that ended up brutalized, to leave the flight. The man refused. Airport security officials were then called to remove the man with force. The man was seen in the video aggressively grabbed, and dragged from the plane as he cried in pain.
Other passengers can be heard screaming and shouting, “Oh my God” and “Look at what you did to him.” The man was later seen running in the aisle of the plane with his face covered with blood. He can be heard saying: “I have to go home, just kill me, just kill me, just kill me.”
The video on Facebook went viral on other social media platforms. Facebook has since removed the video, but the video is still available on other social media channels. Below is the video. Viewer’s discretion is advised due to its disturbing content.
The video attracted the attention of the White House. House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said he was sure President Donald Trump had seen the video. He condemned the incident: “Clearly watching another human being dragged down an aisle, watching blood come from their face after hitting an armrest or whatever, I don’t think there’s a circumstance that you can’t sit back and say this probably could have been handled a little bit better, when you’re talking about another human being.”
When the video went viral, sparking outrage across the world, Chief Executive of United Airlines Oscar Munoz issued a statement describing the violent removal of the man as an effort to “re-accommodate” passengers. He also described the man as “disruptive and belligerent.”
This statement indicated Munoz’s support of the ugly incident. As a response, he received a barrage of criticisms from those outraged. A further blow was added to the criticisms, speaking louder than words and hitting the airline in the pocket where it hurts.
The Guardian reports that nearly $1 billion of the company’s value was erased in trading on April 11. The value of the carrier’s holding company, United Continental Holdings fell over 4% before noon, knocking almost $1 billion off its value. It rallied slightly, leaving the share price down 2.8%, close to $600 million less than the company’s $22.5 billion value as of April 10’s close.
Stock market commentators attributed the huge loss to the viral video shared on social media. It is just amazing how a single video can cost a giant corporation this way. Probably part of the reason Facebook removed the video was to save the situation for its fellow for-profit-company.
Seeing that his company was collapsing due to the free fall, Munoz came back to eat his previous words. He rendered a shameful apology to the affected man, promising that the ugly incident wouldn’t be repeated.
“No one should ever be mistreated this way. I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right. It’s never too late to do the right thing,”Munoz said in a statement.
He also pledged to review the company’s policies for seeking volunteers to give up their seats, for handling oversold flights and for partnering with airport authorities and local law enforcement.
It is currently rumored that Munoz could be booted from his position if the company doesn’t recover from its loss before a review on April 30.
This is the power of the internet and the people. We are grateful for this wonderful opportunity the internet has presented us. For the Rockefellers, if they think the internet is a disaster to this planet, they can relocate to other planets to leave us in peace. We encourage everybody to record and share on the internet any cruel act meted out on any species on Earth.