A TSA agent at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport reportedly whipped the braids of a Native American woman and yelled “giddyup!,” according to NBC News.
- The TSA and the woman both confirmed the incident Friday.
What happened: The woman, Tara Houska, wrote about the experience on Twitter.
- Houska: “Going through @TSA at @mspairport, the agent said she needed to pat down my braids. She pulled them behind my shoulders, laughed & said ‘giddyup!’ as she snapped my braids like reins.”
- Houska: “When I informed the middle-aged blonde woman who had casually used her authority to dehumanize and disrespect me, she said ‘Well it was just in fun, I’m sorry. Your hair is lovely.’ <— that is NOT an apology and it is NOT okay. My hair is part of my spirit. I am a Native woman. I am angry, humiliated. Your ‘fun’ hurt.”
Going through @TSA at @mspairport, the agent said she needed to pat down my braids. She pulled them behind my shoulders, laughed & said “giddyup!” as she snapped my braids like reins.— tara houska ᔖᐳᐌᑴ (@zhaabowekwe) January 13, 2020
My hair is part of my spirit. I am a Native woman. I am angry, humiliated. Your “fun” hurt.
- TSA Federal Security Director for Minnesota Cliff Van Leuven confirmed the incident in an email sent to TSA employees, according to NBC News.
- The email said (via NBC News): “In the news last night and today you’ve likely seen — or heard — of a TSA Officer at MSP who was insensitive in screening the long braided hair of a Native American passenger Monday morning. Did it actually happen? Yes. Exactly as described? Yes.”
- Van Leuven said more about the incident, according to The Washington Post.
- Van Leuven: “We all make mistakes. Treating the public we are sworn to serve and protect with dignity and respect is our calling — every passenger, every day. We’ll learn from this.”
Apology: TSA apologized for the incident in a statement, according to CNN.
- TSA: “TSA holds its employees to the highest standards of professional conduct and any type of improper behavior is taken seriously.”
- TSA (via Washington Post): “TSA was made aware of allegations made by a traveler about her screening experience at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Monday morning. TSA officials investigated the incident and on Tuesday afternoon, TSA Federal Security Director for Minnesota Cliff Van Leuven spoke with the traveler. He apologized for actions and a comment that were insensitive and made by a TSA officer to the traveler during the screening experience.”
Thankful: Houska said in a tweet that TSA created a positive resolution out of a bad situation, according to CNN.
- Houska: “Good resolution from a bad situation. We need more education & empathy for one another.”