Rigoberto Alpizar: Murdered by Homeland Security

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

On December 7, air marshals in Miami shot and killed 44-year-old Rigoberto Alpizar, who was suffering from mental problems and trying frantically to get off his American Airlines flight, which had not yet taken off.

Alpizar was returning from a missionary trip in Ecuador, where he had been distributing eyeglasses to children. The official story is that Alpizar reached into his bag and said he had a bomb. But CBS News quoted one witness as saying that Alpizar had seemed nervous about flying before takeoff, and they quoted passenger John McAlhany as saying that Alpizar frantically ran up the aisle, shouting "I've got to get off the plane." His wife ran behind him, shouting that he was bipolar and that she needed to get him his medication. McAlhany was adamant that

"I absolutely never heard the word 'bomb' at all I never heard the word 'bomb' when we got off the plane. I never heard the word 'bomb' when we were sequestered. The first time I heard the word 'bomb' was when I was interviewed by the FBI."

In two days, no one has been able to produce any passengers who said they heard him say anything about having a bomb. And no bomb was found. McAlhany also said that the police rushed the plane and pointed guns at the passengers' heads while they were still struggling to make sense of what had just happened.

After Homeland Security assassinated an innocent man, were there promises that the government would be more careful in the future? Just the opposite. This outrage is being used to defend and amp up repression.

News reports immediately described Alpizar as a "suspicious passenger." As in--act "suspicious" on a plane, and you will be shot in cold blood. CBS News quoted an unnamed security official as saying the shooting was "textbook." They also quoted John Amat, national operations vice president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which includes air marshals, as saying that "shooting to maim or injure--rather than kill--is not an option for federal agents."

And there have been calls to increase "security" and surveillance in the wake of this shooting--despite the fact that Alpizar had nothing dangerous in his bag. His brother told the Orlando Sentinel that "I can't conceive that the marshals wouldn't be able to overpower an unarmed, single man, especially knowing he had already cleared every security check."

Send us your comments.