HOUSTON (FOX 26) - There has been no bigger news, no keener trigger for the American conversation than the cell phone images of a 69-year-old Asian American doctor brutally expelled from an overbooked United flight in Chicago.
The blowback has been fierce, sparking outrage from a Houston member of Congress.
"We are here to let the world know what we've seen is unacceptable. It is an abomination. It is despicable. It is deplorable and we will not tolerate it in this the greatest country in the world," said Rep. Al Green, a Democrat with a sizable number of Asian constituents.
The airline claims Dr. David Dao became belligerent and refused to relinquish his seat to make room traveling United crew members bound for Louisville.
But Asian leaders in Houston say the force deployed by police in the expulsion was reprehensible.
"It's outrageous that any human being is treated this way," said Cecil Fong of OCA, an advocacy group for the Asian community.
The damage done to Dao has been more than physical. Multiple media outlets today reported the doctor's 2004 conviction on nearly 100 counts of delivering fraudulent pain pill prescriptions and allegations he traded drugs for sex. Dao regained permission to practice in 2015.
This afternoon in the face of ferocious national criticism United's CEO Oscar Munoz called the incident "truly horrific", offered deep apologies to Dao and pledged it would never happen again.
In Houston, where United maintains a major hub, Congressman Green called for more than mea culpas.
"If this calamity with the crew punished or the security officer being punished and no one in the board room being held accountable then we will not have brought justice to this circumstance," said Green.