Dr. Karen Halnon, Penn State Abington professor of sociology, ended her spring break by being arrested at Miami International Airport. The charge: smoking on a plane.
And there is video evidence to prove it.
Nevertheless, Halnon is now claiming she was victimized by both the FBI and TSA once taken into custody. Among the claims the professor has leveled against authorities are that they ignored her digestive needs, causing her to urinate on herself.
As her custody continued, Halnon claims her “stomach condition” set in again and she was forced to defecate on the floor, after which authorities made her pick it up and “laughed at me.”
“They humiliated me,” she added.
The incident began when Dr. Karen Halnon boarded a flight from Nicaragua to Miami. While in transit, she started to speak out about recent Venezuela sanctions and called the late Hugo Chavez her “great hero.”
Sensing that Halnon might be erratic, some fellow passengers broke out their cellphones and began to record her.
At one point, she began smoking on the plane, an act she says was “necessary” because “it is a symbol that the United States is a smoking gun” in how it has treated Venezuela, she said later in comments to Philadelphia Magazine.
Halnon added in a post-arrest interview with the magazine that she was aware she had expressed an “act of civil disobedience.”
“I’m very knowledgable about that part of the world. I teach about U.S. imperialism in Latin America. And the U.S. has declared war against Venezuela. That means military aggression. They tried to take out Hugo with a coup, and then they took him out with cancer.”
Dr. Karen Halnon was arrested in 2013 for public intoxication, but when pressed on that issue and the possibility that she may have a substance abuse problem, she insisted that had nothing to do with what was filmed on the plane, nor did it excuse the way authorities handled her after taking her into custody.
“I do not have a substance abuse issue,” she said. “I have had many sufferings in my life, but no. I had a little bottle of wine on the plane that I mixed with apple and cranberry juice over three drinks. A spritzer, if you will. But I wasn’t drunk. I don’t need alcohol to protest. This is my life.”
Halnon then insisted that she was “following Jesus” and that she knows she “made some mistakes here, but it wasn’t a mistake to speak out. I would do it again today. Ask anyone who knows me.”
Penn State Abington, where the 52-year-old has taught since 1999, has not taken any actions to discipline her for smoking on a plane or getting arrested. Her faculty page remains available on the Abington website.
Do you believe the claims of torture that Dr. Karen Halnon has made? Do authorities owe her an apology?