There’s been a lot said about young Star Simpson’s run in with airport police in Chicago Friday–where she was accused of being a terrorist because she had a battery and a circuit board on her chest–but I think that one thing that has been somewhat overlooked is this disturbing announcement. “She’s lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue”
That boast was made by Scott Pare, the airport’s head of security, as he recounted his brave encounter with the 19 year MIT student to a crowd of sympathetic media drones. Perhaps Pare was referencing Jean Charles de Menezes, the not-so lucky Brazilian man shot in the head at a London Tube station last year. In the Menezes case, police had mistaken the light skinned Brazilian for an Ethiopian under suspicion of being a suicide bomber at the time. Police blew his brains out before giving him a chance to explain himself.
Even saying that latter statement–that because of the confusion and ignorance of authorities you should be given a chance to explain your existence before being shot in the head at point blank range–is a chilling testament to the climate of fear and blind obedience to authority that we currently live in.
I suppose its possible that someone really, really, really stupid, could mistake a young girl with dyed blond hair and a battery and circuit board attached to her sweatshirt for a suicide bomber, as the Airport employee who notified authorities apparently did. Perhaps the key factor here is that she was not completely white, like Menezes. In any case, Pare is right, in a sense; Simpson is lucky that he and his racist, idiot thugs did not put a bullet in her brain like their counterparts in Great Britain did to Menezes, and was only imprisoned, defamed and tried and convicted in the distorted court of media opinion as a “bomb hoaxer”.
But for a lot of us not unlike Simpson–those of us who have a quirk or two, are artists or activists, dark skinned or suffering from Tourettes, literally anything that makes us stand apart from an average crowd of white men and women in our nation’s terminals and stations–we’re all just plain shit out of luck.