What It's Like to Be Flagged by the Feds: A Personal Story

(AP Photo/Nicole Evatt)

Red flag laws are all over the news these days in the wake of the Uvalde shooting and the search for “common sense” gun laws. Red flag laws sound like an answer—simply put, somebody shows signs of erratic behavior, they get put on a list and are banned from buying guns. Simple, right?


No, because nothing in life is ever simple, as RedState’s Brandon Morse points out. For one, people could use such laws for revenge on people they don’t like. Your neighbor’s dog keeps pooping on your lawn? Report him for erratic behavior, get him on a list, see if he ever gets off it. Hint: He probably won’t. Once you’re on a federal list, there’s a good chance you’re on it for life.

I had an early-morning flight last Friday and had to get up at a brutal 4:00 am to hit the road, get to the airport on time, pass through security and get to the gate. My family and I were operating on fumes, and I felt like garbage.

But, in the isn’t-it-a-small-world category, I ran into a friend, actor, and politician, Siaka Massaquoi, who looked fresh as a daisy. “Jeez,” I said to him. “This is brutal.”

“Yeah,” he replied with a smile. “I’ve been here since 3:30 am.”

What in the world? That was two hours before we arrived.

Turns out Siaka is on a “list.” He entered the Capitol on January 6, 2021, but has not been charged with anything. His apartment was raided by over 20 armed FBI agents on June 10, 2021, and he’s been under investigation ever since for “associating with members of a social media group.”

Massaquoi, along with friend Brian Burks who was also present for the raid, described “twenty-some FBI agents with assault rifles” in a video posted to Instagram.

“I did nothing wrong on the 6th,” Massaquoi said. “They can paint something as wrong, but I did nothing violent.”


Although he has not been charged with any crime, and has never been placed under arrest for his actions on that day, that doesn’t mean his life goes on as normal. At the airport, he is treated very differently than you and I, as he explained to me that morning and also on The Hope Report podcast:


Here’s how he describes it:

Every single time I fly I have to check in at the front, I can’t do check-in online. It takes about 45 minutes for them to do their phone calls and talk to whoever and they give me a ticket that has four S’s on it — that means you have go through security—they put that on my bag, meaning the bag i check, and I go to security. As soon as I get up there, “bing!”

They pull me to the side, and when they eventually get to me, however long that takes, they tell they’re going to pat me down. They pat me down front and back, they check my bag and all that stuff, my carry-on, then I go to the gate… and when I’m waiting at the gate, now TSA shows up to do the exact same thing they just did when they checked earlier.

This is every time he travels. On this trip, he found out that his fiancé is subject to the same scrutiny when she travels with him. Remember: These are two people who have not been charged with anything, much less convicted.

He knows he’s been “flagged” because a friend at an airline confirmed it to him. There is no formal name for this list as far as he knows, and he has never been given anything in writing. The government simply doesn’t like him. Siaka continues:


The TSA agent indicates that she won’t subject them to another search “if we escort you directly onto the plane. So now we could walk with them, but we have to go straight to the plane, can’t stop to the bathroom, can’t get food can’t even sit down and just relax.”

As I keep repeating, he has not been charged or convicted of anything – isn’t this exactly what the Fifth Amendment was designed to prevent? Namely that you can’t be punished without due process? Where’s the due process here?

Remember this the next time a silver-tongued movie star or a long-time Republican statesman tries to sell you on “common sense” red flag laws. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems.


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