U.S. House Representative Judy Chu, a Chinese American, said Wednesday she is extremely "disturbed" over the violent treatment of a Chinese-American passenger who was bloodied and dragged off a United Airlines flight, while demanding for answers.
"It is unacceptable to treat any human being in this manner, and United Airlines has to change its policy," Chu told Xinhua in a phone interview from her home state of California.
"No person should be treated in this manner, and it is especially notable that this person was Chinese-American," she said.
The Sunday incident has grabbed headlines worldwide after being captured on a video that has gone viral. In the video, a 69-year-old Chinese-American man was dragged off of a United Airlines flight by officers at O'Hare International Airport after he refused to give up his seat.
The video showed blood pouring from the man's mouth as he was dragged off the flight. The passenger, identified as David Dao, a doctor from Kentucky, said that he needed to see patients the next morning.
Chu, chair of the U.S. Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), said she had penned a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation in a bid to express her outrage and to demand answers. She also wrote a letter to United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz to raise concerns over the violent incident.
"We are demanding accountability, and we are expecting an answer from both United Airlines and the Department of Transportation about what they are going to do," Chu said.
There were so many ways that the airline could have handled this situation appropriately, "but to actually drag him out of his seat and to bloody him, is just absolutely outrageous," Chu said.
Describing the incident as "unimaginable," Chu said that was why she sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, "to express our outrage and to demand accountability on this."
Chu said she did not know if the airline officials or officers felt "they could push this guy around to a greater extent because he's Chinese."
"But regardless, we would stand up for anybody who was treated in such a horrible manner," she added.
When asked whether the stereotype of Asian-Americans being polite and not standing up for their rights could have played a role, the Congresswoman said: "It could have possibly played a role."
"I do think the overwhelming issue was the fact that United Airlines is trying to get every dollar it can. It's overbooked, even though they don't have a seat, and it's resulted in pitting persons against persons for these seats," she said.
She said basically the problem is the "chasing of the dollar," but she still wanted to "ask the question about why they would have picked David Dao for this horrendous treatment, and whether it was that they felt they could push him around."
"I do, however, want the Chinese audience to know that Americans are outraged by this. Americans are saying that this is horrendous and unacceptable," Chu said. "So I do want them to know that the Americans have stood up for this man."
On Tuesday, amid mounting public outrage, United Airlines CEO Munoz apologized over the incident. But earlier media reports revealed that Munoz, in an internal letter after the incident, blamed the passenger for being "disruptive and belligerent."