Two year battle against government ends in victory for mother who was locked in glass cage
April 23, 2014
Many news stories regarding the security theatre antics of the TSA are often disheartening downbeat tales of the dissolution of rights and creeping tyranny in America. So it is important to highlight victories against such things when they do occur.
Which is why it is good news that a mother who was literally locked inside a glass box by TSA agents in 2010, after she refused to let her baby’s breast milk be x-rayed, has emerged victorious after a long legal battle with the government.
Stacey Armato was harassed, subjected to enhanced groping and then shut inside the screening box for almost an hour by the TSA at Phoenix airport almost four years ago. The incident was caught on security cameras, with the video only emerging after months of campaigning by the young mother, and even then it had been heavily edited by the Department of Homeland Security.
After being told that her breast milk might have to be put through an x-ray scanner, Ms Armato attempted to show the TSA agents a print out of their own guidelines allowing non x-ray screening for breast milk – guidelines that had been in effect since July 20, 2007. This act of serious disobedience resulted in the agent pushing Ms Armato into the glass cage, telling her “to be quiet if you know what’s good for you”, while calling for “back up”.
“Standing 50 ft away are the same manager and supervisor I had dealt with the previous week.” Ms Armato , a lawyer herself, wrote in her description of events, referring to a previous 30 minute delay at the security gate for the exact same reason.
After being shut in the box for some 20 minutes, in full public view of other passengers, Ms Armato began to cry and remonstrate with TSA agents. She was then approached by a police officer who told her that she had been singled out by TSA agents who recognized her because she had filed a complaint against them regarding the handling of her breast milk the previous week.
A TSA manager then approached her and told her that the milk had to go through the x-ray scanner because the containers it was in were “too full” and it was “not a clear liquid”. These are both made up rules that are not mentioned anywhere in TSA guidelines, proving that even the TSA manager had no regard for the official laws in this instance.
In December 2011, Ms Armato filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA and four TSA agents for false imprisonment, false light, intentional infliction of emotional distress and federal torts.
Fast forward to 2014, and Ms Armato has reached a tentative settlement with the TSA, which she is calling a victory for all nursing moms.
The proposed settlement will require the TSA to fully clarify its procedures with regards to medical liquids and materials, to retrain all of its officers, and to overhaul and update the agency’s website in order to provide clearer guidelines for breastfeeding mothers.
Armato will also reportedly receive $75,000, which she says she will use to cover her legal fees. She plans to donate what is left over to BreastfeedLA, a nonprofit group that supports breastfeeding mothers.
“We brought this lawsuit for one reason — to bring clarity and policy change for breastfeeding mothers traveling with breast milk,” Armato said. “Hopefully what I experienced at the Phoenix Airport in 2010 will never happen to another mother traveling with her breast milk.”
Armato’s case is far from an isolated one. Rules on taking liquids through airport security, passed in the aftermath of the highly dubious attempted “liquid bombing” incident back in 2006 (which completely collapsed in court), have long been savaged as pointless and unnecessary. Mothers have been forced to drink their own breast milk in a procedure that seems to be designed to achieve little else than humiliating the traveler.
In one particular incident, another working mother, Amy Strand, was even made to pump breast milk into empty feeding bottles before being allowed through security.
“I am so incredibly proud of Stacey Armato,” Attorney Robert Mosier said following the announcement of the settlement. “To stand up like she did and take on the TSA so breastfeeding mothers would have a voice and be free from harassment took real guts and fortitude. Stacey stood up for what she believed, made the government listen and change its policies — it is a true David vs. Goliath story. It has been a difficult journey for her for well over two years.”
Armato says that the video of the incident was a key factor in the victory, and highlights how important it is that citizens are able to documents their treatment at the hands of government security agents.
The TSA has not commented on the settlement, and still has one month in which to file for a dismissal.
Steve Watson is a London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, andPrisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.