Student arrested over "art" shirt with exposed wiring at Boston Airport

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Friday, September 21, 2007

In Boston, Massachusetts a 19-year-old woman with an LED device attached to her clothing was arrested at Logan International Airport, Terminal-C by the Massachusetts State Police. Massport spokeswoman Lisa Langone described the device as a fake bomb strapped to her chest. The woman was identified as Star Simpson, a second year student from Hawaii attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Simpson was asking for information on her boyfriend's arriving flight from Oakland at an information desk when the police were notified.

Police say that the device was made from a computer circuit board (in fact a white breadboard as used in MIT course 6.002 (Circuits and Electronics) laboratory kits), LED lights forming a "star" shape, and wiring. The wiring was connected to a 9V battery, allowing the device to light up. According to Maj. Scott Pare of the Massachusetts State Police, Simpson stated that she had created the device as a piece of art that she created to stand out at a career fair. It was attached to the front of a black sweatshirt with a hood that Simpson was wearing, the sweatshirt had "Socket to me, Course VI" written on the back. She was holding Play-doh. She was arrested at about 8:00 a.m. Police say that the device was part of "art" and that Simpson is cooperating with the investigation.

"This is a serious event and was handled quickly and safely. She claims this was art and just wanted to display the art. She didn't understand the seriousness of the situation and she is lucky we did not use deadly force because we had machine guns on scene," said authorities during a press conference at 11:00 a.m. today.

"She's extremely lucky she followed the instructions or deadly force would have been used. And she's lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue," said Pare.

Pare later said that, "[Simpson] did seem a bit upset that she was in custody. However, she was rational, and she did answer all questions as required."

Simpson reportedly arrived to at the airport via the subway. She was wearing the device during her trip on the subway, and had in fact been wearing the device during an MIT job fair the previous day.

Simpson was arraigned today on charges including disturbing the peace and possessing a hoax device. Assistant Suffolk District Attorney Wayne Margolis requested a $5,000 cash bail, stating that Simpson had shown "a total disregard to understand the context of the situation…an airport post-9/11." Ross Schreiber, Simpson's defense attorney, called the amount "completely unreasonable" on the grounds that she had not pretended the circuit was anything else and that she was a student in good standing at MIT. Simpson pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on $750 bond.

Fellow MIT classmates reportedly describe Simpson as "impulsive" and "creative."


Sources

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