Social media tells story of friend’s terrifying ordeal, racially profiled on 9/11


It all started around 1 p.m. with a simultaneous tweet and Facebook post:

Stuck on a plane at Detroit airport…cops everywhere

The day was Sept. 11, 2011, the 10 year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and the post was by my friend and BTW, WTF?!?! blogging partner Shoshana Hebshi. I saw it in my “Top News” feed on Facebook. Worried for Shoshana’s safety and a bit curious, I clicked to her profile page, where I found four more updates, freshly posted:

A little concerned about this situation. Plane moved away from terminal surrounded by cops. Crew is mum. Passengers can’t get up.

Cops in uniform and plainclothes in a huddle in rear of plane.

I see stairs coming our way…yay!

Majorly armed cops coming aboard

And that’s where the posts stopped. Quickly scrambling the Internet, I found a developing news story stating that there were reports of “suspicious” behavior on a plane that had landed at Detroit Metro and passengers were being removed. So at 2:55 p.m. I commented on Shoshana’s page:

hoping you are among them

But I had this sinking feeling she wasn’t.  Perhaps it was because she hadn’t updated her status in quite some time. Perhaps it was because she hadn’t responded to the hundreds of concerned comments pouring in from her friends on her Facebook page. It was a  social media cliffhanger …

Soshana’s husband posted an update on Facebook around 7 p.m.:

Dudes, Shosh was racially profiled and arrested. Dragged off the plane in handcuffs and taken to a cell. Her crime? The color of her skin. 

And that’s how I learned through social media that one of the most peaceful, friendly people I know — a mother, wife, friend, journalist and American citizen — was stripped of her personal liberties and freedoms, simply because her half-Arab (half-Jewish) skin color lumped her among the “suspicious.”

Today Shoshana described her ordeal on her personal blog. She explained how she and two Indian passengers were handcuffed by heavily armed officers, dragged from Frontier Airlines Flight 623, then spent the next few hours locked up, strip searched, and questioned by Homeland Security.

The link (Some real Shock and Awe: Racially profiled and cuffed in Detroit) quickly spread like wildfire on Facebook and Twitter, through IM, and onto other blogs, with friends, family, friends of friends, and strangers posting and reposting it. And around 6p.m. tonight, an editor at The Las Vegas Sun texted me that an AP story on the incident, (which Shoshana links to in her blog), was the No. 2 Top Read Story on their website, behind a story on Ellen DeGeneres.

With the help of social media, Shoshana’s story went viral!

So after a day-and-a-half engrossed in each step of my pal’s ordeal through the world of social media, I did something totally uncanny. I logged out of Facebook, turned off my computer, took a break from texting, and picked up the telephone.

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One thought on “Social media tells story of friend’s terrifying ordeal, racially profiled on 9/11

  1. Pingback: The tweets that could change the world: Removal from 9/11 anniversary flight has sparked ongoing dialogue, says half-Arab, half-Jewish housewife « By the way, what the … ?!?!

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