The Transportation Security Administration is once again under fire, this time for allegedly detaining a wheelchair-bound 3-year-old girl, taking away her stuffed doll and ordering the girl’s parents not to videotape TSA agents patting her down.
The girl’s father, Nathan Forck, told Fox News Radio’s Todd Starnes that the TSA treated his daughter like a “criminal.”
“And by extension, they were treating us as criminals,” he added.
The incident reportedly occurred at Lambert-St. Louis Airport on Feb. 9. Forck, his wife and their three kids were on their way to Disney World for a family vacation when the trip took an ugly turn. TSA agents reportedly pulled Lucy aside for additional security screening, despite the fact that she was 3-years-old and bound to a wheel chair due to Spina bifida.
“They specifically told me that they were singling her out for this special treatment because she’s in a wheelchair,” Forck told Fox News. “They are specifically singling out disabled people for this special scrutiny. It’s rather offensive to me as a father of a disabled child.”
A TSA agent told the family that they needed to pat down Lucy and swab her wheelchair. The family had already made it through a security checkpoint by this time. Forck’s wife, Annie, pulled out her camera and began filming the incident, which agents told her was “illegal.”
“You can’t touch my daughter unless I record it,” she can be heard telling an agent in the video. Forck then asked an agent to “cite the law” that says they can’t videotape them.
After refusing to stop filming agents patting down her 3-year-old child, the Forck family was soon reportedly surrounded by TSA agents, with one guarding Lucy personally.
That’s when the “alarm bells” really started going off for Forck, who is an attorney and knew it was perfectly legal to videotape the TSA agents.
“It’s your worst nightmare,” he said. “It’s bad enough they are demanding they want to pat down my child and didn’t want me to videotape it.”
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At some point the agents confiscated Lucy’s stuffed toy, “Lamby” – reducing the child to tears.
“She was crying for her stuffed animal which they wouldn’t let her have for the longest time,” he said. “It’s only about a half foot long. It’s a lamb down that talks – but she loves it.”
As TSA agents discussed what they were going to do, the video shows Lucy weeping uncontrollably.
“I don’t want to go Disney World,” she screamed as her parents tried to offer reassurances.
Forck said he understands that a certain level of security is needed at airports – but he believes what happened in St. Louis was not only inappropriate but may have been illegal.
Forck said it’s a mystery why the TSA didn’t want them to film their daughter’s pat-down.
“Just because you slap a TSA badge on – I don’t know this person – and they’re going to be putting their hands on my child,” he said, adding that if someone did the same outside the airport, they would be in jail.
Forck said he and his wife did not want to cause a scene at the airport but they were determined to stand their ground and let TSA agents know “what they could and could not do” to their child.
“We are not unreasonable people,” he said. “But to say you are going to do a bodily search with no probable cause whatsoever – just because she is in a wheelchair. That was offensive.”
After about half an hour, the Forcks were rescreened and allowed to go on their trip. They reportedly had no issues getting through TSA security in Orlando.