Saturday, December 3, 2011

Strip-searching at US airports

85-year-old grandmom strip-searched at US airport

Posted on Dec 04, 2011 at 09:15am IST
Press Trust of India
New York: Authorities at the JFK Airport in New York strip searched an 85-year-old grandmother, who says she now plans to sue the agency for the humiliation and injuries she sustained during the process.

Long Island resident Lenore Zimmerman also missed her flight to Fort Lauderdale after being injured during the search.

"I walk with a walker I really look like a terrorist," a sarcastic Zimmerman said in a report in the New York Daily News.

"I'm tiny. I weigh 110 pounds (50 kilograms), 107 without clothes, and I was strip-searched."

Zimmerman's ordeal began after she checked her bags and waited for a wheelchair.

The retired receptionist asked if she could forgo the advanced image technology screening equipment and preferred to be patted down. She feared the equipment would interfere with her defibrillator.

Transportation Security Administration officials whisked her to a private room and began to remove her clothes. "I was outraged," said Zimmerman.

In the process of the strip search, as Zimmerman lifted a lightweight walker off her lap, the metal bars banged against her leg giving her a bloody bruise.

"My sock was soaked with blood," she said. "I was bleeding like a pig."

She says the TSA agents showed no sympathy and instead pulled down her pants, asking her to raise her arms.

"Why are you doing this?" she said she asked the agents, who did not respond. While Zimmerman was given treatment for her injury, the process took so long that she missed her flight and had to catch a later one.

Zimmerman's son said his mother was put through "a hell of a day," saying he did not understand why the agents treated her in such a manner.

"She looks like a sweet, little old lady," Bruce Zimmerman, 53, said. "She's not a disruptive person or uncooperative."

Zimmerman takes blood thinners and later had to a tetanus shot for fear of infection from the walker wound.

TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said a review of closed circuit TV footage from the airport shows "proper procedures were followed." The TSA claims the footage does not show any sign of the injury.

"Our screening procedures are conducted in a manner designed to treat all passengers with dignity, respect and courtesy," Farbstein said.

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