Just as JetBlue flight Attendent Steven Slater became a folk hero for giving passengers a piece of his mind, Colorado-bound traveler Yukari Mihamae has become a mirror for frustration over stringent airport security after she allegedly groped a TSA agent.
On Thursday afternoon, Mihamae resisted going through airport screening at Phoenix International Airport and argued with officers before she grabbed the left breast of TSA agent Barbara O'Toole. She now stands accused of squeezing and twisting it with both hands without the victim's permission, according to a police report.
Mihamae was released from Maricopa County Jail on Friday and now faces a felony count of sexual abuse. But a cursory Facebook search reveals the upwelling of support for a woman one commenter called a modern day Rosa Parks. The Acquit Yukari Mihamae, Help Yukari Mihamae and Yukari Mihamae Legal Defense Fund groups are outpacing in popularity Convict Yukari Mihamae, which has garnered one like in comparison to 419 for acquit.
My first thought was good for you, to try and get back at them just a little bit, Marcus Brown, a Phoenix resident, told Fox. I think it's kind of a personal violation. I know since 9/11 we have to have some security but sometimes I think it goes a little too far.
The enthusiastic support no doubt reflects rising frustration over airport security practices that can appear overly invasive and arbitrary. On Friday, a federal appeals court upheld the legality of controversial full body scanners. Although the ruling rebuked the TSA for failing to properly vet the technology, it still allowed the agency to continue using the machines. The court noted that passengers can submit to patdowns rather than go through the scanners, and implicitly acknowledged criticism of the scanners.
It is clear that by producing an image of the unclothed passenger, an (Automated Imaging Technology) scanner intrudes upon his or her personal privacy in a way a magnetometer does not, the court said.