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On Monday evening, an American Airlines flight from Miami,
Florida to Barbados was boarded by a paramilitary police unit wielding
assault rifles, who demanded that passengers put their hands on their
heads as they were forced off the flight.
Large sectors of the airport were effectively placed under lockdown
during the operation. The gates of terminal cafes and restaurants were
closed, leaving patrons locked inside by iron bars as police SWAT teams
decked out in body armor and toting assault rifles swept through the
Photos and videos posted to social media documented the egregious
violation of passengers’ constitutional right to be free of unwarranted
searches and seizures. “There were very large machine guns, body armor,
all of that,” one passenger told a local CNN affiliate. “Very, very
Some 70 flights were delayed and nine were diverted as a result of
the lockdown, which shut down two concourses for almost three hours.
Officials claimed the cause of the lockdown was a breach in procedure
by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which allowed a
passenger who had been flagged as having a suspicious carry-on bag to
board the plane. A TSA spokesman added that “in the process of
transitioning other passengers to an adjacent screening lane, standard
procedures were not adhered to and the passenger was allowed to depart
the checkpoint and proceed into the terminal.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation later admitted that the passenger
was a dentist, and that the “suspicious” bag he had been carrying
contained nothing more than fillings and other dental supplies.
TSA spokesman Mike England said that the lockdown was conducted “out
of an abundance of caution” as federal officials “worked with airport
operators to direct gate operations to cease while the passenger was
He added that once the dentist was apprehended, “a manual inspection
was conducted and law enforcement officers determined conclusively that
neither the passenger nor his carry-on bag posed a threat.”