Confused Disabled Woman Beaten Bloody By TSA Officials

Originally Published: 
Image via WREG

Confused disabled woman beaten by TSA officials at airport because the world is going to hell

A horrifying story is making the internet rounds this week about an incident last year involving a disabled woman and the TSA. The details are disturbing but sadly, not surprising considering the current state of things.

Hannah Cohen, age 19, was returning home after getting treated for a brain tumor at St. Jude Hospital when she set off the metal detector at the Memphis airport. According to Raw Story, officials pulled her aside for further screening and Cohen, who is partially deaf, blind in one eye, and paralyzed, got disoriented and confused. She tried to run.

So they tackled her. And when they did, her head hit the ground and she started bleeding. She was arrested and booked into jail, no doubt as her fear and confusion mounted. Her mother witnessed the whole thing, and despite her attempts, was never allowed to explain her daughter’s condition, and was held back by police while her daughter was being assaulted.

“They wanted to do further scanning, but she was reluctant — she didn’t understand what they were about to do,” said her mother, Shirley Cohen.

“She’s trying to get away from them, but in the next instant, one of them had her down on the ground and hit her head on the floor,” Cohen said. “There was blood everywhere.”

Though the charges were thrown out, her family recently filed a lawsuit against the TSA and Memphis authorities. It asserts that her condition is plainly apparent on sight, that the officials made no accommodations for her disability during their screening, including not letting her mother assist, and seeks damages for physical and emotional damage. It certainly sounds like the officials were more than overzealous in their brutal handling of the girl.

As for the TSA themselves? “Passengers can call ahead of time to learn more about the screening process for their particular needs or medical situation,” said TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz.

Well then. Thanks for nothing.

Have things really gotten so dire that we’ve stopped seeing each other as people and begun seeing nothing but potential threats? Do even our most vulnerable citizens deserve to be viewed with suspicion immediately instead of trying to learn a few more details first?

The cover story in the latest issue of Newsweek magazine (I know, I didn’t know it was still around either) is about last week’s Brexit referendum, and the sub-headline reads “How the politics of paranoia is reshaping the world”. But it’s not just reshaping the world in some abstract sense. It’s affecting all of us.

There was also a fine piece on Scary Mommy last week, about how politics are both parenting and personal issues, and it’s completely spot on. I thought of that piece when I saw the Newsweek cover, and I thought of it again when I saw this story.

She tried to run. They were just doing their jobs. Excessively, it seems, but it was an airport, terrorism exists, guns are everywhere, we keep getting told to say something if we see something, we seem to be growing increasingly suspicious of each other, etc. This incident occurred last June, but the country has been on edge for some time now, and things have only gotten worse. We’ve gone from “innocent until proven guilty” to “shoot first, ask questions later.” We have a presidential candidate telling crowds he wants to punch protesters in the face, saying things like, “You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”

Again, this incident happened a year ago (I don’t think the election was underway yet but I also feel like this election has never not been happening), and in one sense, Hannah Cohen has nothing to do with anything beyond this specific incident. But in a broader sense, it does. It didn’t happen in a vacuum.

It’s getting very scary out there, and it’s affecting all of us.

This article was originally published on