‘Is it because I’m a Black woman?’: An Ogden woman questions alleged TSA strip down at Phoenix airport

Local News

PHOENIX (ABC4 News)- An Ogden woman says she was degraded and humiliated by a Transportation Security Administration agent while departing Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix on Feb. 28.

She explains to ABC4 what she says she experienced while going through the security checkpoint for Delta Airlines.

“I was in yoga pants and a jogger zip-up jacket and nothing but a sports bra underneath,” says Aundrea DeMille. “I get ready to go through the scanner where we stand to put our hands up, and there is a middle-aged white gentleman on the other end and he says are you wearing something underneath that? And, I said ‘what?’ And he goes ‘are you wearing something underneath that?’ So, I zip halfway so he could see I’m in nothing but a sports bra, and he says you have to take that off.”

DeMille explains what she says happened next. “I’m standing there in nothing, but tights like half-naked. I put my hands up and follow suit, and I look around and no one else is stripping down. At this point, I’m shaking I can’t even look him in the eye.”

ABC4 reached out to Sky Harbor’s TSA on Thursday, March 4 to ask for video of the alleged incident.

On Monday, March 8, we were told: “If you are looking to acquire CCTV of this alleged incident, you will need to request it from Phoenix Sky Harbor directly through the City of Phoenix public records request process.”

ABC4 made that official request Monday afternoon.

When it comes to how she says she was treated, DeMille has some specific questions she wants answered.

“I can’t figure out is it because I’m Black? Is it because I’m a woman? Is it because I’m a Black woman?”

DeMille says she is exploring taking legal action.

On Tuesday afternoon, TSA released the following statement regarding the alleged incident:

“The Transportation Security Administration’s  (TSA) goal is to provide the highest level of security in the most respectful and efficient way possible. TSA’s procedures do not require travelers to remove clothing during the security screening process. TSA regrets the miscommunication that led to this traveler’s discomfort.”

Here is an account of the event according to TSA:

Additional information:

  • “On Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, a female traveler came to the security checkpoint at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport wearing a sweatshirt with a full-length metal zipper.
  • Knowing that the zipper would likely alarm the security screening technology and then require the traveler to receive a pat down, the TSA officer asked the traveler if she felt comfortable removing the sweatshirt. The TSA officer’s intent was to offer a more comfortable screening experience and was not told by the traveler that she did not have another shirt under the outer layer.
  • The traveler responded by immediately removing her sweatshirt and entered the body scanner wearing only a sports bra on her upper torso.
  • The traveler was screened without any alarms and was allowed to continue on her flight.
  • TSA is sensitive to travelers’ concerns with their screening experience and we continue to invite those individuals to provide feedback to TSA.
  • In any uncomfortable situation, a traveler can request a private screening and can be accompanied by a traveling companion.”

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