TSA search of older woman sparks outrage
The 96-year-old endured a six-minute pat down.
Many are angry about a now-viral video of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials patting down a 96-year-old woman in a wheelchair at Washington Dulles International Airport in a six-minute-screening is described as “completely disgusting” and “unwanted” on Facebook.
On 15 May, Jeanne LaBrier Clarkson shared the six-minute clip to the social network of her nonagenarian mother, Evelyn LaBrier, is screened in her wheelchair by two female TSA security agents at the Virginia airport. Clarkson, LaBrier and Clarkson is engaged, were traveling home to Anderson, Indiana, after a visit to Clarkson’s son in Maryland, CBS News reports.
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“The 3 of us were already in a wheelchair. Only my 96 year old mother was subjected to this long-term, repeated search,” Clarkson captioned the clip, which has since been viewed nearly 9 million times and has led to a heated debate.
In the images, the two TSA staffers politely explain that the search LaBrier when she has her screen, asking her to remove her jacket before giving her a full pat down of her hair to her sneakers, asking her to distribute her weight in a given time so that an officer can inspect under her.
“What do you think they are going to do? A shoe bomb?” Clarkson can be heard exclaiming in the background of the encounter, which left her furious.
“I am my mother, the legal guardian and responsible for her well-being. I went through the security. When I saw that they had pulled Mother to the side to look with her. I tried to ask why. They ignored me,” Clarkson recalled, the Washington Post reports. “Who is angry at me, so I started videoing what they were doing to document my complaint and that I intended to file.”
“I have traveled a lot and never seen anything like it. Mother traveled with me and never groped!” she added.
Although LaBrier successfully passed the screening, the incident has drawn mixed reactions from commentators on Facebook why it had to happen in the first place.
Critics believe that the TSA’s search of LaBrier as “totally disgusting,” “terrible”, “unbelievable” and “unwanted”, while the supporters of the quest say that the agents were just following policy.
“No offense to anyone, but people make use of the elderly to smuggle stuff, and that just because you say you’re in a wheelchair, not that you are not able to smuggle in things that are illegal,” a detractor clapped their hands.
“The woman is only doing her work. It Is both annoying and inconvenient? Absolutely, but they did nothing wrong. She was soft and respectful. She talked her through each step of the process. I’m sure she felt bad about having to do it,” another agreed.
Shortly after, the airport took to Facebook to clarify that it is the TSA’s decision alone to screen the 96-year-old for her flight.
“Many of you have reached us care to talk about a video for a safety place at Dulles International Airport. Security screening at our checkpoints is led and carried out by the TSA,” they posted. “We have a shared customer comments with the TSA for their immediate review and appropriate action.”
Although the TSA not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment, they did offer CBS the following statement on the story:
“TSA is committed to ensuring the safety of the passengers, while the treatment of all passengers with dignity and respect. In this case, the TSA officer provided advisements during the pat-down and was very polite. The passenger was very cooperative and gave no indication that she was excited, or discomfort. She got a pat-down and was off for her flight,” a representative said.
As for the LaBrier family, the United flight was unfortunately canceled due to the weather. With no hotels available, the party of three was forced to spend the night at the airport, Clarkson wrote on Facebook.
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The TSA, the website includes the following information on the general security screenings:
“Pat-down procedures are used to determine whether prohibited items or other security threats in the transport network are hidden on the person. You may be subject to pat-down procedure if the screening technology alarms, as part of the unpredictable security measures, better screening, or as an alternative to other forms of screening such as advanced imaging technology screening” from the TSA’s web page on security screenings states. “Even travelers who normally receive accelerated screening can sometimes receive a pat-down.”
Janine Puhak is an editor for Fox News Lifestyle. Follow her on Twitter via @JaninePuhak