The Transportation Security Administration is once again under fire after news leaked of how the agency threatened to close an entire airport because a 4-year-old girl hugged her grandmother.
The girl’s mother, Michelle Brademeyer, posted a harrowing account of the incident on her Facebook page
, saying officers implied a gun was passed during the brief embrace.
Brademeyer’s daughter, Isabella, ran over to her grandma after the older woman had triggered alarms as she went through security at Wichita Airport in Kansas, she wrote. The family was on its way home to Montana after a family wedding.
|Michelle Brademeyer's 4-year-old daughter, Isabella. (Courtesy of Facebook/Michelle Brademeyer)
Michelle Brademeyer said she and her two daughters passed through the screening with no incident, but her mother set off the alarm and was asked to take a seat and wait to be patted down.
It was then that the little girl ran over to her grandmother to give her a hug, said Brademeyer. “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,” she wrote.
“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,” wrote Brademeyer.
The situation escalated after officers demanded that Isabella be searched, says her mother.
“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.’
Brademeyer, who lives in Missoula, Mont., said she then ran over to her daughter and hugged her — only for officers to insist she put the girl 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 ...”
Eventually, Brademeyer wrote, a manager was called who allowed the little girl to pass through security, but even then the family was followed to their flight.
The TSA told the Consumerist website that the agency has reviewed the case and determined that officers “followed proper current screening procedures in conducting a modified pat-down on the child.”
TAGS: Brademeyer, TSA, handgun, grandmother
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