Boston LED Sweatshirt Arrestee Interviewed

In today’s episode of Boing Boing tv, [Xeni] interviews [Star Simpson]. She was arrested a year ago at Boston’s Logan airport for wearing a sweatshirt with a breadboard and some LEDs attached. With a collective groan, we watched this event unfold just months after Boston was held captive by Mooninites. After many court dates, [Star] is being forced to apologize and perform community service. She has since left MIT, disappointed with their nonexistent support, and left Boston entirely. Watch the interview for her side of the story. She’s posted how to recreate the sweatshirt.

43 thoughts on “Boston LED Sweatshirt Arrestee Interviewed

  1. SO let me get this straight. She wore a bunch of wires and LED’s…TO AN AIRPORT. This is just stupid. Yes tech savvy people know its harmless but i wouldn’t recommend taping an alarm clock to road flares and sticking that in your luggage either.

    Shes a retard to leave MIT (Id kill to get in there) because they didnt “back up” her retarded choices that were made off campus without the schools knowledge or approval. More than likely she left because she’s the only person at MIT that can make a PCB

  2. Ok, if anybody watched her attitude during the “incident”, you will see why she was arrested. She was asked about it, and she gave smart ass look and “who are you to question me” attitude to the clerk who asked. She wasn’t arrested so much for what she was wearing, but for lack of cooperation when she was asked, and gave the clerk at the airport an uneasy feeling. Yes, I thought the shirt too was “art” but, her attitude, and demeanor is what actually landed her in custody. I don’t blame MIT for not backing this “miss thang”, she was out of line, and obviously underestimated the tension in today’s airports. She got everything she deserved.

  3. In her defense. Would a “terrorist” walk into an airport with a breadboard attached to their shirt. I mean hell I’ve gotten on a dozens of planes since 9/11 with a metal frame backpack, xacto knives, metal rulers etc… all of which are by far worse than a breadboard. I think asking for an apology and community service is a bit much for the airport to take time out of their slacking to perform their duties.

  4. audiocra-z –

    From what she said in the interview, coupled with reading a few of the articles on the subject – it’s pretty clear she WASN’T being disruptive or disrespectful. She explained what the device was, and what it did. She cooperated with law enforcement.

    Tension in airports is frankly not enough to justify stripping someone of their rights. As she points out in the interview, under the right to bear arms – she could have had live ammunition in the area of the airport she was at. She did nothing wrong, and then on top of everything else – even though the charges were dropped, they still had to give the media a “justice was served” bite to chew on, and slapped her with community service.

    rivetgeek –
    didn’t bother to watch the video did you? She didn’t have playdoh, she had a hard-baked flower… a gift for her friend. Way to swallow what mass media feeds you.

    All in all, just another overreaction of the uninformed public. God bless america! May we all own many machine guns, drive massive vehicles, and burn the world to the ground as we consume everything we can see.

    1. “All in all, just another overreaction of the uninformed public. God bless america! May we all own many machine guns, drive massive vehicles, and burn the world to the ground as we consume everything we can see.”

      America! Fuck Yeah!

  5. @jm

    Regardless if whether the airport overreacted (I think they did), she made a stupid move. I mean come on, every month or so you see on the news that they blow up a “suspicious package”. how hard would it have been to have the board on the inside with holes for the leds?

  6. she probably didn’t want to punch an exact design through her shirt so that she could configure the leds to be whatever shape she feels like without having to get a new shirt

    while I enjoy machine guns and large automobiles, people in america need to get over their fear of wires and blinking lights. Has anyone here ever successfully boarded an airplane with imperfect diy electronics on their person or in their luggage?

    With the way things are today I’d think most people would be detained and interrogated for carrying like 3/4ths of the stuff on this site, regardless of whether it’s out in the open or concealed.

  7. Last time I checked we still live in a free society being what it is these days. Her only mistake that I can see so far is being anywhere near the paranoid dilusional state of MA. I’ve seen their state troopers in their jumpsuits and jack boots. They all look like they fell out of a G.I. Joe comic book. And apparently they act accordingly. Prepare for the worse and expect the worse from everything you see and everyone you encounter. Cover your mistakes, and paranoia, with lies, and sound bites. The media drinks the cool-aid with gusto. The ratings climb as the ticker scrolls across the screen. A lot of feathers are fluffed, backs patted, and atta-boys all around. A star falls from the sky.

  8. i should also add that mit should have definately supported her. the ongoing war on science that began with chemistry has spilled over quickly into electrical engineering.

    mit is one of the few institutions with the authority to denounce these practices of law enforcement and their refusal to do so is disheartening.

    Readers of this site should know that cheap and portable makeshift electronics have the ability to improve the lives of anyone. In the future these devices will either be widely accepted and utilized, or they won’t, because they’ll all be detonated by bomb squads.

  9. So just because they hire idiots to work airports means that they can arrest you for having a harmless device?

    Stupid nonsense. If they proved it to be harmless then why are they continuing the arrest? Just because those in question weren’t smart enough to compare to her MIT education and know that a 9v and a few LED’s isn’t a high explosive suicide bomb doesn’t mean that she should have any charges, it means that the airport should hire competent people to figure out if a device is actually harmful or not. Having it on your shirt, though, is kinda strange, but if you had such “device” (if you could call a few LED’s a device) in your bag, they shouldn’t be able to arrest you just because it isn’t in a fancy plastic case with some corporate logo slapped on it.

  10. it’s an absolute fucking tragedy that in a group of 40 arresting officers, not one of them recognized a breadboard and some LEDs as being completely harmless.

    three months before 9/11 i boarded an international flight from denver with a three inch pocket knife, and nobody looked twice. now i’m scared to death to travel for fear that I might have accidentally left something that blinks, beeps, is liquid or pointy in my backpack.

  11. Sorry but I can’t defend the actions of the airport insecurity they over reacted.

    Anybody who defends the actions of these wastes of carbon atoms I mean security against her is a fucking moron of epic proportions just like them.
    The so called bomb was found to be a fake and they still press charges since they cannot accept they make mistakes even though the do nothing but make mistakes.
    If these bozos can’t tell the difference between a breadboard and LEDs and a real suicide bomb then I feel my tax dollars should not be paying them they should get a job at McDonalds since it’s more inline with their abilities though even that job might to be mentally challenging for them.
    We need to get over this fear you chances of getting killed by a real terrorists is less then 1 in 30,000 you’re more likely to be killed by a goose getting sucked into the jet engine or several dozen times more likely to get killed in a traffic accident on the way to the airport.
    Now having a bunch of incompetent SOBs pointing sub machine guns at everyone who even looks remotely specious in the airport is very likely to eventually kill someone.
    Also it’s not like Hollywood they fire those machine guns off expect a few dozen bystanders to get hit.
    MIT really should have defended her they should have even backed a huge civil lawsuit against the airport police big enough to destroy some careers as it needs to be done.

  12. Let ma rot on the vine. If we all avoided ma then we’d have nothing to carp about. Those who choose to live in or visit ma get what they deserve. It looks like, smells like, and acts like a little police state. Avoid problems – avoid ma.

    I also avoid commercial airports. If you really need to be somewhere else far away hire a charter.

  13. MIT should have thrown her butt out for lack of judgment. What she did was just plain stupid, on the order of pointing a toy gun a a police officer and there is absolutely no defense for her actions.

    Yes, we live in a free society, and yet protecting a free society means that there are some limits; she stepped way over them, and did so deliberately.

    A couple weeks in jail would have been a more appropriate punishment for her little “joke.”

  14. @jon williams

    Are you that naive? I can nearly guarantee that someone with such intellect would not have done that on purpose. To her, it was like wearing a sweatshirt with a designer logo on it. Any person with half a brain should have been able to see that the device was harmless, and all this shows is how incompetent the people that should be actually defending us really are.

    And the fact that you could suck down what the mass media portrays so easily scares me. Please learn to use some critical thinking skills and look beyond the cr@p and realize that most of the things they portray are just used to cause paranoia among the public, which only leads to ridiculous stories like what happened to this young woman.

    Hindsight is 20/20 and after seeing what reaction she got, of course it is doubtful that someone would ever even consider wearing something like that to an airport ever again. And honestly, if someone would really want to do some damage and actually suicide bomb an airport, why would they broadcast it for everyone to see?

  15. I have to agree with mike o this and jon is full of BS.
    if a cop shoots a kid with a toy gun he/she is guilty of manslaughter and these type of cases almost always end with the cop in jail and the kid’s family getting a healthy settlement.
    With that power usually comes great responsibility abuse it or get sloppy you pay the price it’s only fair.
    thats why toy guns are made to not look realistic and those that are semi realistic must have a flare orange tip.
    I think all air guns also should have the orange tip to farther reduce mistakes.

    personally I’ll avoid the MA airport and maybe ma itself.

    If the girl was a terrorist she would not have walked away and the device would not have been reveled until she was on the plane.
    No terrorist even a dumb one would revel their bomb before they are actually on the plane.
    The only reason they would revel it would be to take hostages and the plane must be in the air for this to work and the passengers would likely attack them anyway.
    Also the media totally screwed up with the play dough description what she had was a hard baked flower of play dough.
    I already avoid flying commercial when I can because of the securety theater BS.

  16. It should be noted some of the MIT types even though they are geniuses are a little well naive when it comes to common sense type things.
    She just thought she was making a fashion statement nothing more.
    If she was trying to make a hoax bomb I think she would have added a few road flares and an LED count down display plus also remark that the device has a heart monitor and if you shoot her it goes off.
    Of course a real terrorist would try to be low key and have the bomb built into something vs visible and would have no LED displays since one they’re not needed and two you don’t want people to know it’s a bomb if it’s a suicide attack.

  17. What is up with this? I mean what the hell was she thinking? Honestly, sewing a breadboard with some LEDs and walking around with it just in general is silly enough. Let alone walking into an airport. I mean the LEDs weren’t even integrated into the shirt or anything, it was just a breadboard sticking out of the front of her shirt.

    Yeah but 10 years ago you could bla bla bla in an airport and nobody would care- WELL GUESS WHAT, IN THIS DAY AND AGE YOU DON’T SCREW AROUND IN PLACES LIKE THAT. No, I am not American. I am not one of those people who think the terrorist are out to get us 24/7. I am a person who thinks that not everyone on the face of the goddamn earth knows what a breadboard and LEDs are.

    I love hacking and electronics, don’t get me wrong. But police officers and security officials don’t. They have better things to do, like keeping things that blow up airplanes OFF airplanes. There’s no room to take chances in an airport and I don’t get why people aren’t understanding this.

  18. @Emtu: She wasn’t even *trying* to get on a plane!

    Today it’s DIY electronics in airports. What’s next? Everybody who owns a van is suspected of having a huge bomb in the back? How about everybody who buys fertilizer and drives a van, that ought to be enough to lock someone up!

    Freedom is chipped away a small piece at a time. If you do anything in your spare time besides eating, sleeping, and watching stupid TV programs, you’re dangerous, because you are *different*.

  19. I can excuse the overreaction to the “electronic menace” on her shirt (barely excuse…), but I cannot excuse the complete B.S. response that followed up by delaying the case because the media is paying too much attention, and charging her with SOMETHING just so they could justify the wasted tax dollars.

  20. To agree with all who have stated this already, I think this is clearly an overreaction on the part of airport security. They fucked up, and did not admit their mistake. It should have been a simple misunderstanding in which everyone walks away. It can be argued that she was not showing proper judgment, but I think that being afraid to NOT commit a crime is symptomatic of a sick society.

    I flew from Chicago to Boston with an entire tube amp, in parts, in my carry-on. I also had a maglite and a microphone. The TSA was very thorough with me, but respectful and understanding. But hey, I’m white.

  21. This is ridiculous. When has there EVER been a terrorist attack with a blinking bomb, except in Hollywood? Can I assume that this is where police are getting their training from?

  22. all this woman is is an attention whore.
    she walked in and, “trolled”, if you will, the airport and all of us. her instructable of how to make this sweatshirt proves it.
    and were giving her the attention. god.

  23. @ a lot of people here.

    What she had on her shirt was a device, yes? An
    I mprovised
    D evice

    add a little bit of E and you get an… IED.

    terrorists especially are dumb as @#$@, so why shouldn’t the police react to something as dumb as this?

  24. first of all, she was a bitch in high school and probably still is…

    second, elfin slade can just suck my ass, I’m sick listening to these stupid piece of shit people who obviously have never been to the US just complain about how we are all “stupid Americans” well fuck you elfin shade you are a piece of shit and I hope you get runover by a volkswagon… What super special country are you from huh? I bet it sucks just as hard as you do dumb ass…

  25. @elfin sux
    No offense, but you are proving him right.

    Americans are not stupid by themselves. But we are stupid in groups. Why? because we are kept that way by people in charge.

    This IS insane, I understand the fact that they need to be cautious in this day and age, but CHARGING her after it was proved that it was a harmless device? That’s crap. Also, if it isn’t the police’s job to identify what is a threat and what isn’t then who’s job IS it? I cant think of any person who needs to know this kind of thing MORE than the people in charge of keeping us safe.

  26. Your life should not be ruined because you act within your rights in an airport. It doesn’t matter about common sense here, nothing she did was unlawful. You should be all be ashamed of yourselves throwing away the rule of law.

  27. Did you all read this article?

    She apologized. They reacted as they could. They don’t have time to ask the person, “Is that weird thing with wires and stuff in your shirt a bomb? Oh it’s not? Well then go ahead.” They stopped her to make sure. They dropped the charges because she was co-operating.

    Everything isn’t a conspiracy or paranoid behavior!

  28. Airport security training advanced class –
    Identifying bombs:
    – Look for big red tubes
    – Beard
    – Lights in form of a heart
    – Display counting down from 10
    – Flowers

  29. @roboguy

    Terrorists are many things. Dangerous, yes. Violent, yes. Frightening, yes. But dumb? No, with the possible exception of that shoe bomber.

    There are no conceivable reasons to have blinkenlights on a bomb. None. If it were me, I’d just wire up a mechanical alarm clock and a D cell battery. And in today’s climate that would be less suspicious than this LED blinky, even though it’s probably the technologically simplest way to make a timed detonator. Hell, most of today’s terrorists use suicide bombers, so you don’t even need a timer.

    You may disagree with their ideology, and you may prefer that they don’t kill you, and you may wish them all a painful death. But asking them to fight a conventional war would be like asking the U.S. army to stand in a staggered line three men deep wearing brightly colored uniforms and shoot in the general direction of the opposing side.

  30. You people aren’t thinking in the form of strategy, or common sense. If you wanted to do something suspicious, you would want to make what ever you are doing a little suspicious, to make it seem like you have nothing to hide. Secondly, what if she wasn’t stopped. I can guarentee many of you would be shitting your pants at the fact that we let someone slip through our fingers. Like stated above, she is an attention whore, she had what was coming to her.

  31. Last poster’s name says it all: he is a troll.

    The lady had a blinkenlights shirt on and was not even boarding a plane. Our security officers are just idiots, plain and simple. I could see this going down, but the GOVERNMENT was the one who should have apologized, not trying to make up a charge to justify the money. Then again, “we screwed up — find a charge” is pretty standard procedure in most police forces…

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