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Man Arrested, Charged with F.W.B.

FWB is "Flying While Brown."

Today's Philadelphia Inquirer fronts the story of Bob Rajcoomar and an experience he had on Delta flight 442, Atlanta to Philadelphia, about a month ago.

Rajcoomar was sitting in first class and, back in coach, a guy went a little nuts. When the guy would not stop being a butthead, two air marshals restrained him. They
handcuffed him and seated him in first class next to Rajcoomar (Rajcoomar switched seats). After the plane landed in Philadelphia, Philadelphia police officers came on board and arrested the unruly man. Noticing Rajcoomar -- and that he was brown -- they arrested him, too.

That's exactly why Rajcoomar was arrested, no other reason. He was a brown man on a plane. Rajcoomar, who for the next few paragraphs I'm going to call Major Rajcoomar (since he is a retired U.S. Army major), did not do anything wrong. He just sat there on the plane while someone else caused trouble.

Maj. Rajcoomar is quoted as saying: "One of the marshals said something like, 'We didn't like the way you looked.' They also said something like, 'We didn't like the way you looked at us.' " Maj. Rajcoomar's statement seems a little over the top -- I mean, he must have done something suspicious to be arrested, right? People are not just arrested because they are brown. Not in the United States. Everybody is respected here; equal justice under the law and all that.

Well, Maj. Rajcoomar, who for the next few paragraphs I'm going to call Doctor Rajcoomar (since he's been a medical doctor for the past 20 years), is right on target. David Steigman, a spokesmen for the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration, is quoted as saying Dr. Rajcoomar "to the best of our knowledge, had been observing too closely." There's a disturbance on the plane, the guy who caused it is seated right next to you, and you get arrested because you "had been observing too closely." Steigman, quite charitably adds, "the airline declined to press charges." I wonder what charges the airline would have pressed? Brown person looking intently?

So, word the wise for all the brown people reading this. If there is a disturbance near you, don't look at it. Look away. It probably won't keep you from being arrested for being brown, but it couldn't hurt.


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