Last I knew, flying from point A to point B was a legal activity. But, it sure didn’t appear legal on Sunday evening as my 12-year-old son and I flew out of the Minneapolis airport.
I only fly about once a year, and I guess I was too busy during the security process in the Atlanta airport on our way out of town Friday morning shoving my boots on and putting my jewelry back on to notice anything upsetting taking place around me. Besides I was in a hurry to catch our early morning flight and was solely focused on being on time.
But, Sunday night at the airport as we headed home, I wasn’t feeling rushed. I had just finished the easy security process with a minor of just walking through the old-fashioned metal detectors. However, I was standing there waiting for my luggage to reappear through the conveyor belt and so I had time to take in my surroundings.
And, that is when I saw her.
About 10 feet away from me was a young girl, maybe 20, who was wearing black leggings just like me, facing my direction, and only steps away from the scanning machine. Her arms were outstretched held in midair for what must have felt like an eternity. Her legs were spread as the female TSA worker facing her took both of her hands and using her fingers and palms slowly touched either side of the girl’s right leg moving methodically up, up, up–knees, inner thigh, all the way up to her “private” parts (which apparently aren’t private if you choose to fly).
I stared watching aghast at the long, invasive pat-down. The girl looked so helpless. So humiliated. As she endured the violation of her body and the 4th Amendment, our eyes met for an instant. I turned away. Embarrassed for her. Of course, her breasts were touched as well. And, even her shirt was lifted slightly so her waistline was exposed for the TSA worker to touch there as well.
Guilty till proven innocent, right?
That’s how it works here in the land of the free and the home of the brave? Oh, wait. You’re right. It’s the other way around. Innocent till proven guilty…unless you decide to fly in this beautiful land.
I get it. 9/11 happened. Things changed.
But, seriously?! This?! We are going to submit to having strangers touch our groin and breasts in the middle of a huge crowd simply because we want to visit a friend, attend a wedding, mourn at a funeral, tour a new city, or take a job interview?
This is freedom? This is how we are going to show the terrorists they didn’t win? Really?!?!
I was so angry as I watched this young girl be molested in my presence. There was nothing she could do. Nor could any of the other women I saw do anything. I thought about my own young daughter being in her place in just a few years. If you want to fly, you first have to prove you are innocent.
Yet, I was not subjected to a pat-down.
I didn’t even have to go through the newer screening machines where you lift your arms up to have your body photographed. (I freaked out when TSA introduced those machines a few years ago. However, we were assured that those pictures are seen by someone else not near you and can’t match them to you. Great. That makes me feel so much better about losing that bit of privacy.) And, by the way, that young girl had already gone through that full-body scanner. As had the others I saw coming through that line and getting the royal pat-down treatment.
Why was I considered innocent and not guilty?
Because I had a minor as a traveling companion.
Interesting. So, the TSA can discern to not target me assuming all guardians are non-violent people, yet they consider this young girl and the others not traveling with minors to be terrorists.
Something has got to change.
In not too many years, my son will no longer be a minor (or whatever magic age they get old enough to be seen as guilty instead of innocent). And, when that time comes, my son will get to see his mom having her private parts touched by a stranger before a crowd. And, I guess he will experience the “pat-down” as well.
People. This is UNACCEPTABLE!
I lived through 9/11. I remember that horrific day. But, these pat-downs are not the answer to ensuring we don’t have another day like that. Stripping humans of their dignity is NOT the answer to guaranteeing our safety.
I never again want to go to the airport and witness helpless INNOCENT humans being subjected to pat-downs that are reserved for actual SUSPECTS.
Flying is NOT a crime.
Let’s stop treating travelers as guilty until proven innocent. Let’s brainstorm and figure out a better way to ensure our safety AND protect our dignity. Let’s write our congressperson and make our voice heard that current TSA protocol is UNACCEPTABLE.
We are the land of the free…
The home of the brave…
AND a people of DIGNITY.
Our physical privacy must be protected.
Will you join me and speak up?
And if we don’t speak up, what’s next? Strip searches? It’s only a matter of time considering the current trajectory.
***Update from 11/4/18: I flew out of the Charlotte airport and then the LaGuardia airport with my family this past week. Neither time did I see anything at security like what I reported I saw in the Minneapolis airport. Perhaps you too are traveling through airports where the 4th amendment is not being violated. Nevertheless, what took place in the Minneapolis airport was a complete violation of the 4th amendment. Please speak up for those who are innocently passing through airports where the U.S. government is performing invasive physical searches. Thank you!