ROTW – 85yo Lenore Zimmerman, for standing up to the TSA

December 7th, 2011

“I walk with a walker — I really look like a terrorist,” she said sarcastically. “I’m tiny. I weigh 110 pounds, 107 without clothes, and I was strip-searched.”

Last week, Lenore Zimmerman, an 85-year-old, Long Island grandmother was on her way to catch a flight when the TSA decided to make things hard for her. A true rebel, she requested to forgo the full body scanners which she worried could interfere with her defibrillator. That’s when the TSA whisked the 4-foot-11 grandmother away in her wheelchair to a private room and began removing her clothes.

Standard TSA procedure in the case of a passenger who refuses a body scan is to administer a freedom fondle pat down. This practice has been controversial in itself, especially after the Department of Homeland Security issued enhanced pat down procedures that allow TSA screeners to be far more aggressive and intrusive with their hands when patting down passengers. But to take it a step further and strip search an 85-year-old grandmother in a private room for absolutely no reason other than her desire to fly on an airplane… in my mind that’s a sexual assault. I don’t see any other way to interpret it.

And Lenore Zimmerman didn’t just suffer humiliation at the hands of the TSA, during the search, she was injured. While trying to lift a lightweight walker off her lap, the metal bars banged her legs leaving a blood-trickling gash. “My sock was soaked with blood,” she alleges. “I was bleeding like a pig.” But a great big heart full of courage and a healthy dose of good old American rebellion sometimes comes in small, 4-foot-11 packages. Zimmerman isn’t taking this sitting down. She’s planning to sue.

Of course the TSA says she’s lying.

Check out the top-voted comment on that article:

Who do you believe?

An 85 year old grandma?


An organization which takes naked photos of your wife and daughter “for your safety”?

An organization which routinely steals valuables from luggage?

An organization which left a non-english speaker in a glass cage for 8 hours?

An organization controlled by an organization which knowingly distributed assault rifles to mexican drug smugglers 6 months after trying to ban the exact same weapon?

An organization run by an organization which is trying to make it legal to detain indefinitely Americans, without trial, lawyer, charges and even after being found innocent?

Do you believe your grandma or a politician to tell the truth?

Sure it wasn’t a ‘strip search’ they just made her take off all her clothes except her underwear, becasue that is how you treat people with dignity and respect.

And if you still believe the government….

If the search only took 10 minutes. Why did she miss her flight?

Good questions. Until I hear some better evidence from the TSA that she was lying, I’m going to trust the rebel grandma… and the two other elderly women who have come forward with similar allegations about the TSA’s humiliating procedures. I can’t imagine the level of courage it takes to come forward publicly, share this kind of experience with the whole world, accuse an organization like the TSA which has all the power and all the advantages that it does, face them down in the court of public opinion, and drag them to civil court and sue for damages. My hat is off to you, Lenore. You are a true rebel!

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About the Author: Wes

Wesley Messamore, 24, is an independent journalist and political activist who believes in the Founding Father's vision of a free, enlightened, and moral America. He also blogs at