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The Difference Between Vigilance and Vigilantes

Wednesday, Oct. 04, 2006 4:32 PM

Seth Stein is a terrorist architect.

In May 2006, Stein was returning from a business trip to the Turks and Calcos islands (approx. 575 miles southeast of Miami) when an alleged police officer grabbed him from behind in a headlock and told him to remain calm. The 'officer' searched Stein's passport and iPod.

The flight crew eventually determined that Stein was not a terrorist. Upon landing, he received an apology from the police and was offered an escort from the airport.

Here's where the fun begins.

The police officer, who identified himself as 'Michael Wilk' of the NYPD, pointed Stein out to the flight attendants as behaving in a suspicious manner.

That complaint was based on the fact that Stein went to the bathroom with his iPod.

Oh. And he had dark skin, otherwise known as a suntan.

The flight crew apparently ran a security check on Mr. Stein, and told the 'officer' that everything checked out. It was after being told to return to his seat that 'Officer Wilk' assaulted Mr. Stein.

Stein, of course, is exactly who he says he is. A Jewish architect with established and prominent clients.

Wilk, on the other hand, doesn't exist. The only Michael Wilk on the NYPD is a man who has been retired for 25 years.

The airline, however, must have some record of his identity through the passenger manifest, and, one would think, checked his credentials when he made his original complaint.

American Airlines initially offered Stein $2000 as compensation, but then withdrew the offer on the grounds that it implied liability. Officials are aware of the non-existence of 'Michael Wilk,' but told Stein that he may work for another law enforcement agency ... only they aren't saying which one.

Elsewhere, a man was detained and questioned for speaking Tamil.

He was about to board an American Airlines flight, and was reported by an off-duty airline employee, who - for whatever reasons - viewed a foreign language as a danger.

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