Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Opponents of airport full-body scans encourage Thanksgiving travelers at LAX to opt out [Updated]

November 24, 2010 | 11:07 am

Up to 20 people handed out fliers and stickers at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, encouraging Thanksgiving holiday travelers to be aware of new federal security measures, including full-body scanners.

"We are sending a message to the people since the government has dropped the ball in telling people about these body scanners," said Nick Hankoff, 25, the Los Angeles-based organizer of wewontfly.com.

The flier, entitled "What the Transportation Security Administration isn’t telling you," advises that "enhanced pat-downs" are no longer a simple search like those in the past, and recommends not leaving public areas for private screenings, which could be more invasive.

The flier also tells travelers that the full-body scanner provides "a false sense of security," and it talks about health risks from the machines, saying they use "ionizing radiation, a cumulative known health hazard for imaging."

The group also handed out neon-green-and-pink stickers reading "Don't touch my junk," the now-famous words uttered by Oceanside resident John Tyner as he underwent a recent pat-down at San Diego International Airport.

"The government hasn't done a good job educating people on these scanners ... not telling them what their other options are,” said Michelle Fields, 22, a Pepperdine University student and member of wewontfly.com. "It's an invasion of privacy, it's an assault on our liberty. We want people to know that they can opt out."

Lori Lamb, 54, an actor, said she felt compelled to support wewontfly.com because "I think our nation is headed into a nation of controlling the people, telling us what to do. Our rights have been taken away from us."

[For the record at 1:38 p.m.: A previous version of this post identified Lamb as Lori Land.]

Some passengers were reluctant to take the fliers; others took them and immediately pushed them into their pockets or purses as they hurried to catch their flights. But others stood and read them as they waited in line to check in for their flights.

Tony Hsu took a pamphlet from Fields and began to read it. He had just flown in from Houston and was waiting at the curb to be picked up by family members.

Hsu said he was wanted to know more about the possible health hazards connected to the body scanners and said the government should make clear whether the radiation is harmful or not.

Members of wewontfly.com also handed pamphlets to airport employees, law enforcement personnel and pilots. Len Tannan, who works in employee communications for Los Angeles World Airport, said he spoke with one of the demonstrators in an effort to better understand their motives for being there.

He said he and his wife were both cancer survivors and had "no problem with the pat-down." He added that he wouldn't mind going through the X-ray machine, but that he understood why some people might be concerned about the risks.


Tell us your Thanksgiving travel stories

Thanksgiving travel lines moving briskly at LAX

Thanksgiving travelers at LAX express mixed feelings about new security measures

-- Ann Simmons at Los Angeles International Airport