A Federal civil rights lawsuit recently filed in Philadephia describes a pattern of facts that combine the worst aspects of several previous incidents of TSA and local police collaboration in mistreatment of insufficiently subservient travelers.
Roger Vanderklok was falsely arrested at a TSA checkpoint at the PHL airport on January 26, 2013, “Because a TSA Supervisor did not like something Mr. Vanderklok said to him and because Philadelphia Police personnel failed to perform their duties and arrested him without probable cause.”
Mr. Vanderklok was on his way to Miami to run in a marathon, and had some “Power Bars” (essentially a cross between candy bars and granola bars marketed to athletes), in their original sealed and labeled packaging, and a sports watch with a heart rate sensor in his carry-on luggage.
You don’t have to take Mr. Vanderklok’s word for what happened, or for whether the TSA testified truthfully against him. You can judge for yourself. Compare the airport and/or TSA video included in this television news report (showing Mr. Vanderklok standing peacefully with his hands clasped in front of himself, at belt level, around his laptop computer) with the lies in the TSA supervisor’s testimony at Mr. Vanderklok’s trial, as reported in Mr. Vanderklok’s Federal complaint:
Under oath in Municipal Court, the TSA supervisor testified that his attention was directed to Mr. Vanderklok when Mr. Vanderklok became “irate” and started angrily waving his arms and hands in the air. The TSA supervisor demonstrated this for the Court. The TSA supervisor testified that he approached Mr. Vander clock, who eventually stated: “Let me tell you something — I’ll bring a bomb through here any day that I want … you’ll never find it.”…
The TSA supervisor testified that “the passenger [Mr. Vanderklok] put his finger in my face.” He went on to demonstrate for the court. He testified that Mr. Vanderklok’s finger came within six to eight inches of his face. He testified that Mr. Vanderklok moved his finger towards and away from his face approximately six times.
It’s clear from the video that Mr. Vanderklok made no such movements or gestures. It’s also clear that the Philadelphia police took him into custody as soon as they arrived, without further ado.
Needless to say, this TSA perjury to try to justify the unlawful arrest of a disfavored traveler reminds us of the (equally unsuccessful, fortunately) frame-up of Phil Mocek by Albuquerque police and TSA staff, just as Mr. Vanderklok’s Federal lawsuit reminds us of Mr. Mocek’s ongoing lawsuit against the ABQ police and TSA. (Oral argument on Mr. Mocek’s appeal is scheduled for March 17th in Denver.)