United Airlines has come under fire after a video showing police officers dragging a Asian male passenger off a flight went viral on April 10. The 69-year-old passenger went to the hospital for his injuries to his face.
Less than two days after the incident, Zishi Zhang, an 18-year-old college student in the UK, launched a petition that calls for a federal investigation of United Airlines’ actions.
As of the time of writing, it has garnered more than 55,000 signatures of its 100,000 goal. The petition, which claims that United’s actions were racial motivated, is trending on social media with the hashtag #ChineseLivesMatter.
“A passenger was forcefully removed from the plane because he refused to give up his seat. He was dragged off brutally and violently. Blood is visible on his face and body,” the petition reads. “The passenger was shouting that he was chosen to leave the flight only because he is Chinese, according to the news report by the New York Times.”
It is not confirmed whether the passenger is a Chinese national or even ethnically Chinese. There is speculation online that he is Chinese based on his appearance, as well as another passenger’s claims that he described himself as Chinese on the flight.
On April 10, a spokesperson for the US Department of Transportation told Business Insider that it is “reviewing” the incident.
“The Department of Transportation (USDOT) remains committed to protecting the rights of consumers and is reviewing the involuntary denied boarding of passenger(s) from United Express flight 3411 to determine whether the airline complied with the oversales rule,” the agency said in a statement.
United also provided this statement to BI:
“Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate. We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities.”