YAL at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign held a TSA: Gone Wild event on the Main Quad last Thursday. “Free Freedom Frisks! Patriotic Patdowns!” I chanted as hordes of students power-walked across the quad. Most people got a laugh out of it, and we had plenty of double takes.
I was just really amazed at how many people just didn’t get understand that we were a parody of the TSA. Dressed in the classic “Airport Strip Search Unit” uniform, I was mistaken for a police officer, a pilot, and a security guard. Many international students had no idea what the TSA was, so we had quite the experience trying to explain why we were protesting. Other students actually thought we were the TSA for a good 10 seconds and took their backpacks off.
We had a few students stop and ask some in-depth questions, and several fellow liberty-lovers were happy to find out that our group existed on campus. We’re always happy to find new members! While many undergrads were used to groups tabling on the quad, the prospective student tour groups had a blast with our table. I was handing out the colored beads, and I could attract whole crowds with a single cry of “Get searched and get beads!”
The wind gave us a bit of trouble, so we didn’t have a scanner, but I was using a wand to detect all sort of dangerous materials on our terrori- er, passersby. From water bottles to pencils to headphones, our fearless squad of agents kept the quad safe for another afternoon.
One girl who stopped by asked me to pose for a picture since her father worked for the TSA. She said, “Oh, he’ll love it! He totally understands your point of view!” Another prospective student stopped to tweet about us to her friends back home.
All in all, we had a successful day with beautiful weather and a whole lot of anti-TSA goodness!
Agent Ken I. Seymour
A.K.A Cole Gleason
YAL UIUC Member