A man who attempted to videotape the nametag of a TSA official was assaulted, detained and threatened with arrest Saturday if he did not delete the video.
Mark Lyon said even after he deleted several videos of his altercation with TSA, Port Authority police detained him for two hours while they ran all kinds of background checks on him.
Fortunately, he wasn’t attempting to fly out of John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, so he didn’t miss a flight.
He was just trying to determine if they were using the full body scanners at the airport, he explains on Flyer Talk.
It all started when he snapped a photo of a group of TSA officials lounging about near a checkpoint.
First, a TSA official confronted him, attempting to smack the cell-phone camera from his hand.
Then more TSA officials responded, including one who attempted to wrestle the phone from his hand.
Lyon said he began yelling, which prompted the other TSA officials to order their aggressive counterpart to back off.
He was surrounded by a group of TSA officials when he spotted two Port Authority police officers walking into the terminal.
They didn’t help matters any.
(Police) demanded I stop taping. I complied. They interviewed the TSO who hit my phone and got the story from everyone that I was making things up. They refused to look at the video from my phone.
A TSA supervisor came down and told everyone that I was not allowed to film (he has a rule against it in his SOP, which I was not allowed to see), and the manager from the IAT (Terminal 4) came and said that the terminal had a rule against photography and that I needed to be kicked out, since I wasn’t flying.
When the TSA supervisor addressed me and refused to show me his secret rule, I started filming again. He gave me the familiar “the website doesn’t apply here” speech. He was very interested about whether I was with the media.
First they told him there was a TSA policy that forbids cameras near checkpoints, which we know is false.
Then they told him it was against the policy of the International Arrivals Terminal.
Then they told him it was a Port Authority rule, even though they could provide no documentation to confirm this.
A Port Authority police supervisor eventually showed up and threatened to arrest him unless he deleted the videos.
Lyon said he finally deleted the videos when one of the officers pulled out his handcuffs and walked up behind him.
Once I deleted everything – supervised by two police officers and the guy from the TSA – they again forced me to show them that nothing was left on my phones or camera. During this, one of the officers activated the camera on my android phone and (I think) wiped out the recording of the TSO hitting me. I tried to show them this video before deleting it – Officer Prior watched it and told Officer Bruckner to look at it, but when I showed it to him, he just started screaming that I must “delete that too, or you’re taking a ride with us now!”
I think Officer Prior realized that the video showed exactly the opposite of what he had just been told by a gaggle of TSA officers.
Once everything was deleted, Officer Bruckner calmed down and gave me a lecture about wasting his time. During this, he told me how much he and his officers hate the TSA and that he hates it even more that half-informed people like me cause him to have to back them up. He then demanded that “his guys” “run every damn database on this guy” before sending me on my way. That took about 2 hours, all of it spent standing in the terminal and near the air train. It appears that the slowest search was the FBI. As soon as that came up clean, I was sent on my way.
During this time, the police had my driver’s license. In addition to their records, they allowed the TSA, the IAT people and an unknown person to copy all of my information. The TSA guy (in the red shirt from the video above) called and started a “SAR” on me, and loudly said to someone near him that “we should put that guy on the no fly list”.
Lyon is a frequent flyer who recorded the video of a woman nearly coming to tears after she was groped by a TSA official in Chicago.
He was able to recover some of the videos they forced him to delete. They are posted below (not sure if I got the order correct).