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Angry Passengers Confront Eastern Ticket Agents; One Arrested

November 30, 1987

MIAMI (AP) _ About 75 frustrated Eastern Airlines passengers angrily confronted ticket agents during a layover extended by flight delays, and one woman was arrested for kneeing an officer in the groin, police said today.

Eastern officials said they were uncertain whether the problems were caused by the same delayed flight Sunday night.

Airline spokeswoman Paula Musto disputed police reports that the passengers were waiting to board a flight to Bogota, Colombia, and said she thought the passengers were waiting to board a flight to Newark, N.J., that was delayed about four hours.

The flight to Colombia was only 15 minutes late, she said.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is always a busy day, Ms. Musto said, adding that she was sure other airports and airlines experienced delays. Helda Biggins, 31, a New York decorator, was arrested Sunday night when she allegedly went behind Eastern’s international ticket counter, refused police Officer Darryl Crump’s order to leave, and kneed him in the groin, police spokesman Rey Valdes said.

″We don’t have to take this 3/8 We will sue Eastern for this 3/8 I have names 3/8″ Valdes quoted Ms. Biggins as shouting to the other passengers before her arrest.

Ms. Biggins, who had arrived on a flight from New York’s LaGuardia Airport, continued to yell, kick and struggle as she was handcuffed, Crump said.

She was charged with disorderly conduct, battery on a police officer and resisting arrest with violence, Valdes said. She was released on bond this morning.

In September, five people, including a 14-year-old boy and his parents, were arrested when 168 passengers became incensed after being bumped from a flight bound for New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Both the FBI and Metro police are investigating those arrests, following allegations that police overreacted during the fracas.

″Everyone was pretty much irate and upset, but as far as striking police officers and taking it to that extreme, she was the only one,″ Valdes said.

The crowd remained sympathetic toward the woman, calling out to police to leave her alone.

″Our stance is, ’You hit an officer, you’re going to go to jail,‴ Valdes said. ″The minute these people start throwing a punch or kicking, you go to jail - no questions asked.″

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