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TSA to Investigate Agent’s Conduct Toward Indigenous Woman

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TSA has launched an investigation into one of their agents after Tara Houska, an attorney and Indigenous rights activist, claims the agent pulled her braids and made an offensive as she made her way through MSP Airport security.

According to Houska, the incident occurred around 10:30 a.m. on Monday at MSP’s Terminal 1, where she tried to catch a connecting flight to Bemidji upon returning from the “Fire Drill Friday” climate protest in Washington, D.C. over the weekend.

As she went through security, Houska said a TSA agent told her she needed to pat down her braids to check for weapons. “She pulled them behind my shoulders, laughed & said ‘giddyup!’ as she snapped my braids like reins,” Houska posted on Twitter. “My hair is part of my spirit. I am a Native woman. I am angry, humiliated. Your ‘fun’ hurt.”

Houska goes on to say that, after she told the agent her actions and comments were offensive, the agent laughed, claimed she was kidding and said she “didn’t mean to offend you.”

“But it was very offensive. She was laughing as I walked away,” Houska states. “It’s TSA and so it’s invasive no matter what — it’s their job to sometimes pat you down and it’s part of safety and I get that, I frequently fly through the airport — that said, it was dehumanizing and just really disrespectful. It was kind of humiliating to be honest, as a person but also as an indigenous person.”

A TSA spokesperson made a statement that the agency is “aware” of the allegations and that it is “currently reviewing CCTV from the security checkpoint at MSP to determine what may have happened. TSA will take appropriate action should an investigation substantiate the traveler’s allegation.”

Houska’s tweets about the incident garnered public response. The official MSP Airport Twitter account apologized to Houska and promised to send her tweet to TSA’s leadership. “We’d also be happy to file a formal complaint on your behalf, if you DM us your contact information,” the airport’s account replied. It was later clarified that MSP can only pass along the complaints to TSA but cannot actually file the complaint itself.

The TSA also reached out to Houska via Twitter shortly after the incident. “We regret to hear that you had a bad experience at the security checkpoint,” the @AskTSA tweet read. “If you’re willing, please DM your email address, so that we may gather more details.”

The TSA spokesperson said the agency does not yet have a complaint on record but will investigate any allegation of improper behavior. Houska plans to file a complaint and appreciates MSP’s willingness to help with the process.

“Coming back from a situation where I’m demonstrating about Indigenous rights, then coming back through and experiencing something like that? Yes, those are two different things, but they’re also all connected. All these little microaggressions add up, and we should be treating each other with respect across the board,” Houska said, as she had just returned from the Fire Drill Friday climate protest, were fought for Indigenous rights and vocally opposed the controversial Line 3 Pipeline project in Minnesota alongside celebrities like Jane Fonda and Joaquin Phoenix.

Houska said she does not want the employee fired and does not seek retribution.

“I would actually hope that TSA does a better job of training its employees to understand why this is not OK,” Houska said. “The outcome is hurtful. So think about why that was hurtful and treat other people with more respect… When you casually use authority to be disrespectful to other people, that’s part of a whole systemic problem.”

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Strange Odor at Oakland Airport Sends Travelers to the Hospital

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We have seen more issues with strange odors on airplanes in the last year or so than at any time, some so severe they required a diverted landing.

Now comes word that another incident has taken place, only this time it was actually inside the airport.

Four people were taken to local hospitals by the Oakland (Calif.) Fire Department on Tuesday after an unknown substance began giving off a strange odor at Oakland International Airport.

According to Fox News, the odor came from a small box at one of the ticketing counters that is used to discard items that cannot be brought on a plane via carry-on bag – water bottles, bottles of cologne or mouthwash larger than three ounces, etc.

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The airport played it safe and called the fire department, which sent a Hazmat crew according to the NBC TV affiliate in the Bay Area. There was no disruption to airport services, though four people were taken to the hospital to be checked out for precautionary reasons.

This is the latest in a series of numerous reports of odors emanating from a plane or airport just in the last year or so alone, much less beyond that time frame.

Some have been fumes that have forced flights to land.

Some have forced flights to divert to other airports.

Some have been so overwhelming that passengers and crew were hospitalized.

And some have even been visible – if you like your airplane cabin filling with an unknown fog.

The Oakland Fire Dept. is still investigating the cause of the odor.

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