My first thought, upon reading the headline, was “Why can’t we just get along with each other?”
According to facts included in the document filed with U.S. Magistrate Judge Steve Yarbrough, Payne acknowledged standing up on a Southwest Airlines plane, still in flight, from Chicago to Albuquerque, walking up to the woman he did not know in an aisle seat ahead of him and saying something like, “Take it off! This is America!” then pulling off her head scarf, leaving her head exposed.
The woman, who felt violated, quickly grabbed the hijab and covered her head again. Payne also admitted that he knew it was part of the religious practice to wear the hijab.
(His actual language was apparently more colorful.)
Sadly, the authorities didn’t seem to take the incident seriously, at first. When the plane landed she had to insist the airport police be summoned, but they didn’t interview any of the other passengers. The police took a report but did not file criminal charges.
As part of the plea deal, the guy may receive two months of home detention. However, the woman is strongly considering a civil lawsuit.