For wearing a shirt offensive to TSA (which is my right), I was harassed, detained, assaulted, and threatened by TSA for no reason other than the fact that the TSA agent in question found my shirt (pic below) personally offensive.
It’s not the best quality and it’s long, so instead of watching the whole thing I recommend looking through the transcript below and skipping to any part you find interesting.
You may not agree with my method or the content of the shirt, that’s fine. The only reason I wore it was to make myself feel a little less uncomfortable about having my fourth amendment rights walked over every time I go through security, and I certainly succeeded in that goal. Following the incident, I had multiple people (including the person sitting across the aisle from me on the airplane) congratulate me for my efforts and tell me that they were proud that someone is speaking out.
I have submitted the following to TSA as a civil rights complaint. I’ve contacted the ACLU but I’m not sure if I should send this to anyone else, such as news stations.
This action is, as you might expect, protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, as upheld in the Supreme Court case Cohen v. California. I was quiet and compliant with the entire screening process.
TSA agent Raymond D. Evans (briefly violently) confronted me, and committed the following actions, and by his own admission only because he found my shirt personally offensive:
Suppression of my first amendment right to freedom of expression (18 USC § 242 Deprivation of rights under color of law, RCW 9A.80.010 Official misconduct) – Entire incident
Suppression of my first amendment right to freedom of the press (18 USC § 242 Deprivation of rights under color of law, RCW 9A.80.010 Official misconduct) – Multiple times when my camera is blocked, both by Raymond Evans and TSA agent 2 (see below) – See Fordyce v. City of Seattle, 9th circuit, 1995 which protects my right to record government officials in public Illegal detention (RCW 9A.40.040 Unlawful imprisonment) Assault (RCW 9A.36.041) – [4:18] in the video
Lied to the Port of Seattle Police dispatcher (RCW 9A.76.175 Making a false or misleading statement to a public servant.) – Raymond Evans told the Port of Seattle Police dispatcher that I was “harassing the public,” a statement directly contradicted by video evidence
Harassment (RCW 9A.46.020) – Entire incident
Threatened to arrest me (RCW 9A.60.045 Impersonation of a law enforcement officer) – [7:49] and [8:11] in the video
Repeatedly insulted me (Fortunately for Raymond Evans, not a crime, but still unbecoming a federal employee)
Before entering the security checkpoint, I was wearing a sweatshirt over my yellow t-shirt. I removed my sweatshirt and put it in my suitcase about 30 seconds before the video starts, right before I entered the line to the screening area.
[0:00] I entered the security line wearing my shirt, started filming.
[1:47] My boarding pass and ID (passport) are checked by the TSA agent before the screening area, she is polite.
[2:21] I’m asked if the back of my shirt is the same as the front, I reply that it is. I don’t remember who asked and from the video it’s not clear.
Between [2:21] and [4:13], I quietly try to make my way to one of the screening lines. I am doing nothing but waiting in line and holding up my phone (recording).
[4:13] TSA agent that confronted me appears
[4:17] TSA agent tells me that my shirt is “offensive” and that I should take it off.
[4:18] I decline, “No, I’m not required to.”
[4:18] TSA agent makes a lunge for my camera.
[4:26] TSA agent tells me I “don’t have a right to take pictures.”
[4:28] TSA agent tells me I don’t have the right to wear an offensive shirt “like that”
[4:31] I remind the TSA agent that my right to do so is protected under the first amendment
[4:37] I request that the TSA agent call a law enforcement official
[4:39] TSA agent responds that they’re “working on that”
[4:45] TSA agent “It’s our right to protect [unintelligible] and we find you offensive.”
[4:50] I’m OK with him having his own opinion
[4:55] TSA agent asks if I’m wearing another shirt underneath. I reply that I’m not taking my shirt off.
[5:00] TSA agent says he’s going to call the Port of Seattle [Police].
[5:03] TSA agent tells me to turn my camera off. I decline. I reiterate that I have the legal right to record, and that I have a copy of TSA recording policy in my pocket.
[5:23] TSA agent 2 is now visible.
[5:22] TSA agent is speaking into his radio, requests that “Eric” call the Port of Seattle Police, and ask them to come down to the “south checkpoint” (checkpoint 2) Transcription follows:
“I have a passenger in the line here with very offensive language on his shirt, also taking photographs and uh, basically just being uh, harassing the rest of the public here.
Yeah, it’s uh, 4 or 5, 5 6, … and uh, his shirt is uh, graphic uh, uhh, language and uh, personally I find it offensive and so does everybody else in this area and so I want to bring in bring in uh, bring in the police officers so they can straighten him out.
Uh, no he’s just uh, being a, uh, he’s actually even recording and photographing everything as he comes through line and his t-shirt says first amendment uh, F-K TSA security theater, uh, Cohen v. California, whatever versus California.
[Other voice on radio unintelligible]
Uh, he’s uh, somewhat. Yeah, Kindall here is aware of it, he’s actually watching but I took it upon myself to intercept this guy because of his uh, his shirt and the language. OK, ‘preciate. Thank you. OK, thank you.
[7:23] [Radio done] TSA agent says “OK I’m just going to stay with you until they arrive.” I agree and comply.
[7:28] TSA agent wonders if he should move me through the line to the secure area.
[7:48] TSA agent explains that the quicker he moves me through the security line, the quicker he can arrest me
[7:49] TSA agent threatens to arrest me, thereby impersonating a law enforcement officer (a crime):
Me: You are not a law enforcement officer, sir, you personally cannot arrest me.”
Him: Oh, but I am a federal officer and I do have enough authority in here-
Me: You do not have the authority to arrest me.
Me: I know the law.
Him: (sarcastically) Oh, are you a lawyer?
Me: I am not a lawyer but I know my rights.
Him: (sarcastically) Oh.
[8:11] TSA agent says “If you try to take photographs of anything or of our equipment or any imagers or whatever, then I will stop you.” I reply, “Well, you don’t have the legal authority to do that.”
[8:32] TSA agent confirms that the back of my shirt is the same as the front.
[8:40] TSA agent decides to move me through the security line.
[9:00] TSA agent is indecisive about moving me through the line so I politely wait.
[9:28] TSA agent leaves, leaves me with TSA agent 2
[9:47] TSA agent 2 starts blocking my camera with his hand I try to explain that he legally cannot do that, to no avail
[9:57] TSA agent 2 is visible
[10:37] TSA agent 3 appears (camera is too low to see his face), but this agent is merely curious to know my name and is not confrontational. I politely decline to identify myself, and he is understanding and leaves me alone.
[12:24] I’m still detained, waiting for the Port of Seattle police to arrive, TSA agent 2′s face is briefly visible in the video
[13:32] I say “There they are” to the camera, meaning I can see the Port of Seattle police approaching the security checkpoint (not visible in the video yet)
[13:39] I’m greeted by the Port of Seattle Police
[13:44] Port of Seattle police officer speaks to me and is visible in the video
[13:58] Officer sees that I am recording, and asks if I am going to post the video to the internet. I explain that the video is streaming live to the internet and that I cannot delete the video from my phone.
[14:16] I state my intention to fully comply with the TSA screening process. The officer asks that I state to the camera that I will comply with the TSA screening process, I do so.
[14:47] The officer asks that I stop recording.
[14:49] I decline to the officer.
[14:58] The officer states he does not know TSA procedure on filming.
[15:00] I state that I have TSA recording policy in my pocket.
[15:14] I hand the printout of TSA policy to TSA agent, which he reads.
[15:34] TSA agent claims that “my purpose is disruptive.”
[15:36] I disagree.
[15:38] TSA agent berates me and expresses his distaste for the content of my shirt. He’s permitted to his opinion.
[15:56] TSA agent tells me that he will make sure that I take off my shirt before I go into the checkpoint. I remind him that that’s where he starts violating my rights.
[16:00] Port of Seattle police is seen in the background photographing/filming me. This is their right and I do not mind.
[16:04] I give TSA agent a quick lesson on the first amendment.
[16:16] TSA agent claims I am causing a disturbance by “just being here.”
[16:19] I point out that the “disturbance” only started when TSA agent initially confronted me. During this time TSA agent requests my boarding pass. I comply.
[16:47] TSA agent says “We’ll let the airline handle it” after determining that I am flying Delta.
[16:56] I inform to the TSA agent that I never intended to wear my shirt on the aircraft (which is true, airlines are private companies and I did not intend to wear a potentially offensive shirt on board)
[17:06] I explain that there is a difference between the checkpoint being public property and the airplanes (owned by the airlines) being private property.
[17:12] TSA agent calls me a smartass.
[17:30] I’m still detained before the security checkpoint. 4 Port of Seattle police officers are conferring near the initial security line.
[18:07] TSA agent claims he has the right to block my camera and starts doing so
[18:12] I cite Fordyce v City of Seattle, (9th circuit, 1995) and am ignored
[18:45] I state TSA agent’s name to the camera, “Raymond D Evans” (which is what was displayed on his badge, but not legible in the video)
[18:55] TSA agent asks to see my driver’s license. I remind the TSA agent that I have already given him my ID and I will not provide him a second form of identification. TSA agent asks a second time, I still decline.
[19:35] TSA agent asks if he can touch my bags so as to move them through the screening area. I say that I would prefer to escort my belongings myself if possible. TSA agent agrees.
[19:46] Speaking to someone off-camera, TSA agent refers to me as “ignorant person.”
[19:50] I am finally permitted to begin the screening process, after being illegally detained for over 15 minutes.
[20:16] TSA agent requests that I take off my shirt again. I decline.
[20:19] I put my phone in the bin to be screened, camera facing up.
While my phone is in the bin and my belongings are screened, off-camera I am led through the metal detector with no incident.
[23:21] The bin containing my phone exits the x-ray machine
[23:43] I am seen retrieving my belongings, and the video captures a view of the shirt I am wearing along with my face
[25:56] I retrieve my phone from the bin
[26:06] A man off-camera tries to tell me that I “cannot record here,” and that I “can go to jail for that.” I reply “There’s no law against it.” Off-camera the man looks frustrated but leaves me alone. Again, not visible in the video, but the man is wearing a suit and I assume he is an airport official.
[26:33] My camera is blocked by someone. I am heard asking if the person is with the airline, with no response. I do not recall but I believe this is the same person as in [26:06].
[27:15] My camera is unblocked. TSA agent is seen speaking to a woman who works for Delta.
[27:31] TSA agent asks which state I’m a resident of. I reply Washington state.
[28:17] Employees of Delta start to talk to me. It’s hard for me to tell what they’re saying in the video. My camera is pointed down.
[28:22] I explain to the Delta employees that I did not intend to wear my shirt onto the aircraft, as I understand it’s private property, and I agree to take off my shirt for them at the checkpoint.
[28:43] I tell the Delta employees that I will not put my shirt on after I take it off, and they won’t see it on the aircraft.
[29:03] Delta employees request that I stop recording. I comply. The video ends.
Immediately after I turned off my camera, I was approached by a man who identified himself as a federal air marshal (with photo identification). He demanded to see my passport, which I gave him. He took a photo of the identification page of my passport, and then took a photo of myself using his cell phone. Then he refused to answer any questions and walked away. (Sidenote: I have submitted a FOIA request for these photos and any other files TSA has on me.)
At this point, the Delta employees requested I remove my shirt. I complied. After this, I was confronted by another angry Delta employee (who walked up after I took the shirt off, so she didn’t see it) who told me that “there was only about a 50% chance” I would be able to board my flight, that she was “making a full report to the Captain,” and that I could go to my gate but I “would be watched.” Ultimately I boarded my flight with no issues, but considering that Raymond Evans made it his sole personal mission to prevent me from flying by any means necessary, it’s likely he lied to the Delta employees regarding my compliance at the security checkpoint to try to prevent me from flying.
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