15 August 2008

Welcome to the police state

"I was taking photos from my window seat of clouds… a very loud child seated a few rows in front of me annoying everyone for approximately two hours… the man seated next to the loud child had finally lost it."

At that point, the child's mother and the passenger were yelling at each other… "On instinct, I turned my video camera towards the altercation…”

Parver said she did not leave her seat or even stand up in it.

In the less than two-minute video, an off-screen man can be heard yelling at a woman to control her child and the mother responding also in anger…

Approximately 30 minutes after the dispute, Parver said she was approached by the flight crew who were asking passengers questions about the altercation. When Parver told them she had recorded the incident, they requested she accompany them to the back of the plane…

"After viewing the video, they demanded that I delete it," Parver said. "I asked, 'Why?' The head-stewardess went as far as to tell me that I had broken a law by using an electronic item during the flight…"

After refusing and returning to her seat, the crew asked Parver to return to the back of the plane again…

"This time they told me that the captain demanded that I delete the video…”

"I'm a rational, non-threatening 56-year-old grandmother who was complying with every request the flight crew made, other than delete two minutes of video," Parver said. "I knew I had done nothing wrong and that the flight crew was out of line to demand I delete a video."

Parver said she politely told the flight crew that she would accept being arrested since she did not believe she had broken any laws and returned to her seat.

A few minutes later she was given a yellow slip of paper notifying Parver to cease her illegal behavior or risk very serious repercussions with the phrase "Interference with an airline crew member" circled. The offense has a maximum punishment of $10,000 in fines and 25 years in jail.

"How could the flight crew falsely accuse me of a federal crime?" Parver said. "I only left my seat when I was asked to follow them. I only spoke when they spoke to me. I blocked no one. I never turned on a light. And I never brought my camera out again after receiving this notice…"

Parver said she was escorted off the flight by two police officers, a TSA agent and a JetBlue Airways representative in handcuffs…

"The police, a JetBlue rep and a TSA official all looked at the video and agreed that it was too dark to really see who was on it and that it clearly had been shot from my seat, so I had not interfered with anything that was going on," Parver said. "I assumed that was the end of it." At that point, the representative with JetBlue requested that she delete the video, Parver added.

"He informed me that if I didn't immediately delete it, I could never fly on JetBlue again," she said. "He said that he would be filing a report that would be shared with other airlines, and I might have a hard time getting any airline to let me fly."

Parver requested a written notice that she was going to be denied service from the airline, as well as possibly others. The representative and LVMPD officers then asked her to leave…

Parver then asked for everyone's name, when the officer told her to leave or be arrested, she said.

"I said, 'Then arrest me…'"

"When I tried to explain anything, I was told I could not talk, only he could talk," Parver added…

"This could have happened to anyone, but few would have stood up to the threats," Parver said. "This should never happen in America."

(Full story HERE. Discussion at the Consumerist.)

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