February 10, Newark, NJ
Take away the first word in their names and there are not many similarities between Newark Liberty International Airport and Newark Municipal Court. One of them sends airplanes all over the planet. The other is a few blocks from a business that calls itself New Jersey’s largest pawn broker. Amelia Earhart led the dedication of the first terminal at one of them. People fight tickets for illegal dumping and peddling at the other.
And at one of them, Haisong Jiang had to pass through a metal detector.
This occurred on Tuesday, when he entered the front lobby of the courthouse for his arraignment on charges that he breached security at the airport on Jan. 3. Mr. Jiang’s actions caused the evacuation of the airport’s busiest terminal, setting off several hours of chaos.
In video from the airport that day, one Transportation Security Administration officer can be seen walking away from his post. On Tuesday, there were four officers stationed in the courthouse’s lobby, with three more nearby, and they stayed put.
Mr. Jiang was charged with defiant trespass, a low-level offense punishable by 30 days in jail and $500 in fines. The security measures on Tuesday seemed high for charges that Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer later complained were “the equivalent of spitting on the sidewalk.”
“All Haisong Jiang wanted to do is kiss his girlfriend goodbye one last time at the airport,” Mr. Bruce said. He did not mean to inconvenience hundreds of travelers and shut down Terminal C for six hours, he said.
Ms. Spencer said she planned to introduce legislation in the Assembly on Thursday for tougher penalties for the kind of breach Mr. Jiang was accused of: three months in jail and $15,000 in fines. “When we looked at the law and saw there was nothing there, it became a concern,” she said.
What kind of legislation was introduced in the Assembly for the TSA employee who walked away from post?