PDX Follies (Updated)

December 26th, 2002  |  Published in Uncategorized

A film industry worker from LA had an unfortunate run-in with security here in Portland’s PDX:

“…After some more grumbling on my part they eventually finished with me and I went to retrieve our luggage from the x-ray machine. Upon returning I found my wife sitting in a chair, crying. Mary rarely cries, and certainly not in public. When I asked her what was the matter, she tried to quell her tears and sobbed, ‘I’m sorry…it’s…they touched my breasts…and…’ That’s all I heard. I marched up to the woman who’d been examining her and shouted, ‘What did you do to her?’ Later I found out that in addition to touching her swollen breasts – to protect the American citizenry – the employee had asked that she lift up her shirt. Not behind a screen, not off to the side – no, right there, directly in front of the hundred or so passengers standing in line. And for you women who’ve been pregnant and worn maternity pants, you know how ridiculous those things look. ‘I felt like a clown,’ my wife told me later. ‘On display for all these people, with the cotton panel on my pants and my stomach sticking out. When I sat down I just lost my composure and began to cry. That’s when you walked up.’ “Of course when I say she ‘told me later,’ it’s because she wasn’t able to tell me at the time, because as soon as I demanded to know what the federal employee had done to make her cry, I was swarmed by Portland police officers. Instantly. Three of them, cinching my arms, locking me in handcuffs, and telling me I was under arrest. Now my wife really began to cry. As they led me away and she ran alongside, I implored her to calm down, to think of the baby, promising her that everything would turn out all right. She faded into the distance and I was shoved into an elevator, a cop holding each arm. After making me face the corner, the head honcho told that I was under arrest and that I wouldn’t be flying that day – that I was in fact a ‘menace.'”

I don’t completely trust the narrator for reasons I can’t quite finger, but it’s an unhappy story akin to the “mothers forced to drink their own breast milk” stories (which are always true enough to be offensive indications of how stupid people behind a uniform can get without perhaps being as terrible as the http-enabled game of ‘telephone’ makes them out). File under “local interest.”

Update: It looks like Snopes.com has opened a file on this story, which has been linked widely in the past few days.

Response to the item is mixed. On PortlandIndyMedia.org, the discussion veers back and forth between unquestioning acceptance and a healthy amount of “blame the victim,” with a large middle ground feeling a lot of sympathy for the author’s wife and markedly less for the author himself.

Another Update: The Rant has a letter from the airport’s Jean Pratt, who acknowledges the incident and reiterates the accusations the author says were made.

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© Michael Hall, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license.