Yesterday we brought you the story of a 10-year-old boy who was groped by the TSA. Last month we brought you the story of a 3-year-old in a wheelchair. Over time, we’ve brought you stories of TSA agents arrested for child porn, sexual assault, and too many other crimes to keep up with. Today, we bring you the story of a 4-year-old.
The child was traveling with her family when her grandmother got singled out for extra TSA attention. While the grandmother was being detained, the 4-year-old girl, Isabella Brademeyer, ran over to her and gave her a hug.
In a familiar scenario, the TSA screamed at her and her grandmother. The girl’s mother tells the story:
They made very brief contact, no longer than a few seconds. The Transportation Security Officers(TSO) who were present responded to this very simple action in the worst way imaginable.
First, a TSO began yelling at my child, and demanded she too must sit down and await a full body pat-down. I was prevented from coming any closer, explaining the situation to her, or consoling her in any way. My daughter, who was dressed in tight leggings, a short sleeve shirt and mary jane shoes, had no pockets, no jacket and nothing in her hands. The TSO refused to let my daughter pass through the scanners once more, to see if she too would set off the alarm. It was implied, several times, that my Mother, in their brief two-second embrace, had passed a handgun to my daughter.
“Passed a handgun to my daughter.” This is the kind of intelligence we’re dealing with.
But that wasn’t the end of it. As other accounts in my Master List have shown, the TSA often screams at parents, “Don’t touch your child!” and that’s also what happened here.
My child, who was obviously terrified, had no idea what was going on, and the TSOs involved still made no attempt to explain it to her. When they spoke to her, it was devoid of any sort of compassion, kindness or respect. They told her she had to come to them, alone, and spread her arms and legs. She screamed, “No! I don’t want to!” then did what any frightened young child might, she ran the opposite direction.
That is when a TSO told me they would shut down the entire airport, cancel all flights, if my daughter was not restrained. It was then they declared my daughter a “high-security-threat”.
Two TSOs were following her and again I was told to have no contact with my child. At this point, I was beyond upset, I disregarded what the TSO had said to me, and I ran to my daughter. I picked her up. I hugged her. I tried to comfort her…
I was forced to set my child down, they brought her into a side room to administer a pat-down, I followed. My sweet four-year-old child was shaking and crying uncontrollably, she did not want to stand still and let strangers touch her… A TSO began repeating that in the past she had “seen a gun in a teddy bear.” The TSO seemed utterly convinced my child was concealing a weapon, as if there was no question about it. Worse still, she was treating my daughter like she understood how dangerous this was, as if my daughter was not only a tool in a terrorist plot, but actually in on it. The TSO loomed over my daughter, with an angry grimace on her face, and ordered her to stop crying. When my scared child could not do so, two TSOs called for backup saying “The suspect is not cooperating.” The suspect, of course, being a frightened child. They treated my daughter no better than if she had been a terrorist…
A third TSO arrived to the scene, and showed no more respect than the first two had given. All three were barking orders at my daughter, telling her to stand still and cease crying. When she did not stop crying on command, they demanded we leave the airport. They claimed they could not safely check my daughter for dangerous items if she was in tears. I will admit, I lost my temper.
Another TSA agent, one with a brain, finally appeared on the scene, and eventually, after some more groping, allowed the family to proceed. Yet they were further harassed at the gate. You can read the rest of the account yourself. (By the way, “TSO” stands for Transportation Security Officer, but as we’ve reported numerous times, TSA agents have no law enforcement authority; they aren’t cops.)
Another parent posted a similar story in the comments section of the Seattle Times on January 12, 2011. Posting as “waterthink,” the parent wrote:
Just this week, on returning from a family vacation in CA over MLK weekend, myself, my wife, and our two children were detained by the TSA because we refused to have our children go through the back-scatter machines. When my wife told them we were opting out the TSA woman at the metal detector said “Do not touch your children.” I then went through the metal detector and waited with my son as my wife and daughter were escorted away. When another TSA agent came to take me and my elementary school age son to be searched, I put my arm around him and the woman yelled “DO NOT TOUCH HIM!” All four of us were then subjected to approximately 5 minute searches each. It is a truly surreal experience to watch your child being searched by uniformed agents. Really just unbelievable. I watched the people going through the line watching this and I think most were aghast. Never thought I would live to see this happen in this country. Never.
Another commenter, on November 21, 2011, posted this at a public travel forum:
Travelled Denver to San Francisco in November 2011 on government business. Had to go thru x-ray scanner. There was a girl about 5 or 6 years old in the scanner before me. Big woman TSA Agent barking at her “put your hands over your head!! Hands over your head NOW!” Just like the police on a cops episode. Little girl was sobbing. Finally let through. I got through alright, but was seriously disturbed by this. Is this what America is now? I drive whenever possible. Very sad.
This isn’t about security. This is about power. Power and control. The TSA’s absolute power and control, and passengers’ lack of same.
As I asked yesterday, I ask again today: how are parents dealing with this? And why are they putting up with it?
(Photo: Michael Cote/Flickr Creative Commons)