To: The Great American Public
From: Pissed of passenger
Subject: [Insert 30 seconds of thinking up a vapid subject line.]
OK, I’m gonna try to avoid getting too serious on here, but have you read the story about two air marshals gunning down Rigoberto Alpizar, an American Airlines passenger?
Whew... (deep breath)
This clusterfuck that is our government, our country, our way of life is finally starting to get to me. I have so many questions that I don’t even want an answer to. What the..? Why are..? Then, how..? I’m too frustrated to speak, and I can barely write.
Dave Adams, a spokesman for the Federal Marshal Service, said Alpizar was running through the aisles yelling, “I have a bomb in my bag.” Yet, not one fucking passenger can recall this. Not one passenger aboard a Boeing 757 heard this. But thanks to our handy-dandy Federal Marshal Service for saving the day.
This whole ordeal started with a dispute between Alpizar and his wife. An airplane pilot seated beside his wife comforted her by telling her there were marshals on board and the situation was “covered.”
This is where I become confused. He runs OFF the plane and is confronted by marshals on the boarding bridge. When he “appeared” to reach for his bag, six shots rang out. Well, “two or three shots” if you listen to the Federal Marshal Service. “[A]t least five, up to six, shots” if you listen to a passenger.
Through this thick cloud of bullshit, this is what I see happening:
• Man and wife get in intense argument, rattles passengers.
• Man decides he wants to get off the plane. He’s missed a couple doses of his medication for bi-polar disorder. Wife pleads for him to stay.
• In a manic state, man gets up, grabs one of his bags and storms off the plane. Woman tries to stop him, but remembers to get the rest of their luggage.
• Novice marshals (both were appointed in 2002) follow the man, guns drawn, knowing the situation could get out of control. They hear him speaking as he’s running down the aisle, but they’re behind him. Man pays no attention to marshals.
• They get outside the plane, man is relieved — until he hears screaming marshals. “Get down, now. Get on the fucking floor, now!” Man gets excited.
• Before he gets on the ground, he decides to take the bag that is hanging on the front of his body off, as to lay flat. He’s confused, maniacal, ready to go home.
• Trigger-happy marshals let him have it. “He said he had a bomb, didn’t he?” says Marshal No. 1. “Fucking right he did. And you swear by it,” says Marshal No. 2.
I understand the importance of safety on an aircraft. I completely comprehend the severity of the situation and how bad it could have been if the marshals didn’t do something and the guy ended up actually having a weapon in his backpack.
I don’t, however, understand why he — an unarmed man with a backpack that made it through security screenings (which have been under scrutiny, anyway) — was shot numerous times. They didn’t shoot him to slow him down. “Shoot to kill,” as my great uncle, a former police lieutenant used to say.
Of course, you know the story. The marshals are immortalized for their bravery. Bravery to gun down an unarmed — and visibly disturbed — man, brother, husband, friend. Real fucking brave.
Let the marshals point their fingers at the man who, thanks to them, has no say in this dispute, anymore. None of the passengers will remember what exactly happened. For some of them, this was the most traumatizing event of their lives.
Situations like this, however, are part of the job for U.S. Marshals. One could see passengers getting excited, scared, nervous.
Not a goddamn marshal, the highest level of law enforcement one can achieve.
But look at the situation. Do you think one person on that plane actually believed that guy had a bomb? Or even a weapon?
He got in a fight with his wife and wanted to get off the plane. Thanks to two Barney Fifes, just trying to do the right thing in their eyes, a man is dead who should still be alive. And in jail. For causing problems on an airplane. Because this is America.
“Don’t you remember 9/11?” they will ask. Why, yes. Yes, I do. You remind me every fucking day.