Gilmore ejected from plane for “Suspected Terrorist” button

July 19th, 2003 – 9:54 am
Tagged as: Uncategorized

Activist John Gilmore was kicked off of a British Airways flight yesterday for wearing a button on his lapel that read “Suspected Terrorist”.

My sweetheart Annie and I tried to fly to London today (Friday) on British Airways. We started at SFO, showed our passports and got through all the rigamarole, and were seated on the plane while it taxied out toward takeoff. Suddenly a flight steward, Cabin Service Director Khaleel Miyan, loomed in front of me and demanded that I remove a small 1″ button pinned to my left lapel. I declined, saying that it was a political statement and that he had no right to censor
passengers’ political speech. The button, which was created by political activist Emi Koyama, says “Suspected Terrorist”. Large images of the button and I appear in the cover story of Reason Magazine this month, and the story is entitled “Suspected Terrorist”.

The steward returned with Capt. Peter Hughes. The captain requested, and then demanded, that I remove the button (they called it a “badge”). He said that I would endanger the aircraft and commit a federal crime if I did not take it off. I told him that it was a political statement and declined to remove it.

They turned the plane around and brought it back to the gate, delaying 300 passengers on a full flight.

So apparently expressing a political opinion that makes some people uncomfortable while on an airplane is now a security risk. Don’t you feel safer?

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