Anti-TSA activist during agent’s patdown: ‘She just touched my vagina’

By Arturo Garcia
Wednesday, May 29, 2013 9:59 EDT
google plus icon
Ashley Jessica films TSA frisking in San Diego 052713. Image via KFMB-TV.
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Email this page

A Canadian woman’s latest video of herself encountering the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) patdown procedures shows a female agent’s hand moving through her groin area, illustrating what she describes as a common violation of passenger privacy.

“This happens pretty frequently, the TSA touching people’s genitals,” Ashley Jessica said to KFMB-TV on Tuesday. “It’s becoming accepted and I think that’s a very big problem.”

In the video, Jessica and her mother film their patdowns by TSA agents while flying to Toronto from San Diego, California. The footage has been viewed more than 140,000 times since being posted on Sunday.

“You’re not gonna make contact with her private parts in any way, correct?” Jessica asks a female agent before her mother is patted down.

“Correct,” the agent responds.

“And you are aware of the upper leg area, as I explained before we came in,” an off-camera woman tells Jessica.

“Right,” Jessica answers. “The upper leg meaning thigh, not vagina.”

“Well, she’s going to do the upper groin right here,” the agent says in response.

Another agent, a man, joins the conversation, asking Jessica, “What did I just say about the commentary? We just explained to her exactly what she’s gonna do.”

“I was just clarifying because people sometimes people can confuse the upper thigh with the private part,” Jessica answers.

“Let her clarify,” the male agent says, gesturing toward the agent patting Jessica’s mother down. “You’re just here observing.”

“Right. I’m just letting you know that you don’t have permission to touch her privates,” Jessica responds.

Later, during her own patdown, another female TSA’s agent’s hand can be seen moving on top of and between her breasts, causing her to recoil.

“I would rather you not touch my breasts in any capacity,” Jessica tells the agent after being briefed on the nature of the patdown.

“Unfortunately we are going to have to stop the screening process, because that is a necessary part of the patdown,” the agent responds. “It is up to you if you want to continue.” The agent indicates that if Jessica does not agree to the patdown, she will not be allowed to board her flight.

After the agent explains how her hands will be used during the patdown, Jessica consents to let the procedure continue. Seconds later, the agent’s fingers appear to brush her vagina, causing her to back away again.

“You need to hold still for the process,” someone says off-camera.

“She just touched my vagina,” Jessica answers. “Seriously, that was not my upper thigh.”

The agent then concludes the search without further contact with her groin area.

“I felt violated and I was surprised,” Jessica told KFMB.

A TSA spokesperson told the station that every passenger has the option of going through their patdown in a room outside the main screening area with a witness present, but Jessica argued to KFMB that videotaping the procedure reminds agents they are accountable for their actions.

Jessica has been documenting her experiences with TSA agents since September 2012, when she posted a video her brother filmed when she refused to be patted down while flying out of Norfolk, Virginia, calling it the “Opt Out and Film” campaign.

“The TSA agent who gave me the first pat-down also gave my mom a pat-down on camera and complained that my brother is violating her rights by filming it,” she wrote in the description of the video. “Oh the irony!”

In November 2012, Jessica and documentarian Jason Bermas appeared on The Alex Jones Show after encountering airport security and law enforcement officials while filming and distributing materials to travelers at Albany International Airport in New York. Jones, a noted conspiracy theorist, had a run-in with the TSA in January 2013 after refusing to remove his shoes, accusing agents of discriminating against him.

Watch KFMB’s report on Jessica’s latest run-in with TSA agents, aired Tuesday, below.

Jessica’s original video, posted Sunday, can be seen below.

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
By commenting, you agree to our terms of service
and to abide by our commenting policy.