A doctor showed up late at the Orlando, Fla., airport for an early morning American Airlines flight to Philadelphia this past Thursday. According to the New York Times, his flight was scheduled to take off at 6:24 a.m. He got to the gate at 6:00 a.m.
Airline employees at the gate told Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, 59, that he was too late to board the flight. Epstein became upset and began berating the employees at the gate, which resulted in police being called.
When the officers arrived, Epstein began yelling at them too, taunting them about their ability (or lack thereof) to de-escalate a situation and demanding that they either find him a flight or arrest him. The officers arrested him, and according to an arrest affidavit obtained by WESH, Epstein was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, trespassing after a warning and disorderly conduct.
The encounter was captured on cell phone video which was also obtained by WESH.
In the video, Epstein can be seen ranting and raving loudly as police arrive, telling them he is “pissed off.”
He accuses one of the responding officers of trying to provoke him and asks him, “Do you know how to de-escalate things, genius? Do you have training genius?”
He also asks the officers, “Wanna test me?”
When Epstein announces, “Come arrest me or give me a flight,” the officers move in to handcuff him. He, of course, resists, and when the officers tell him to stop resisting, he yells, “Do not hurt me. Do not be rough with me, asshole,” directly into the face of one of the officers.
Epstein then falls down to the ground, holding his hands tightly to his chest and yelling, “Look at them! They’re going to beat me up! Don’t beat me up, you mother fuckers!”
As officers continue to struggle with him, he yells out, “Oh my god! They are treating me like a fucking black person!”
The video ends with officers threatening to pepper spray Epstein, which the Times reports eventually happened.
Oh, the white privilege.
Although Epstein claimed the officers who arrested him treated him like a black person, I would argue that the only “black” part of his experience is the fact that he arrived at the airport at 6:00 a.m. for a 6:24 a.m. flight. That is where the comparison ends.
A black person who had displayed even a fraction of the offensive behavior Epstein did during his hysterical (not funny, but actually hysterical over missing a flight) would have likely ended up beaten by police or worse—dead.
Black people have died for much less at the hands of police. This was a point noted by David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition.
Johns told the Times, “It’s clear that Dr. Epstein stood firmly in his privilege, taunting the officers. He was condescending. He was rude. Those are all things that black people could never think to do to a police officer and remain standing and or breathing.”
In response to Epstein’s comment that he was being treated like a black person, the Orlando Police Department said in a statement that it believes “all people are to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Interestingly enough, the Orlando Sentinel did an investigative report on the Orlando Police Department’s use of force from Jan. 1, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2014. They found that officers from the department used 3,100 times during that four-year period, and force was more frequently used on black suspects—55 percent of the time. Black people make up just 28 percent of Orlando’s population. They accounted for seven of the 10 people fatally shot by Orlando police.
While those statistics run counter to the police department’s assertion in the Times, they do not apply here as Dr. Epstein, who lives and practices in Lakeland, Fla., is not a black man.
In an interview with WESH after the incident, Epstein said he behaved that way on purpose to teach American Airlines about customer service and teach the police about de-escalating.
“If you’re going to do this to a white doctor, who’s 59-years-old, for doing nothing, then why would black people trust you?,” Epstein said.
They didn’t exactly arrest you for nothing, doc, but please—continue.
“I’m a conservative Republican, I’m a Trump guy. But until the police fix this problem, I don’t blame black people for being upset when they get arrested,” he continued.
“I was no danger. I was being loud because I wanted everyone to see. I wanted everything to be out in the open. Big companies have to take care of their customers, and when they call the cops in, they got to deescalate, not escalate,” he said.
Well, I guess he showed them.