If you haven’t heard who Steve Bierfeldt is, he was flying from Lambert Airport in St. Louis to Washington D.C. on March 29, 2009. He was later detained in a small room at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and interrogated by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials for nearly half an hour after he passed a metal box containing cash through a security checkpoint X-ray machine. Mr. Bierfeldt is also the Director of Development for the PAC “Campaign For Liberty” which among other things is an advocacy group for promoting and defending the principles of individual liberty, constitutional government, sound money, free markets, and a noninterventionist foreign policy, by means of educational and political activity.

On top of that he used his iphone to record the entire interrogation, which can be heard here:

Now this is not literally in the realm of the fine arts but it easily could have. If you spend anytime with a major art institution or business you could easily have $4,000 USD on you (from fund raising, merchandise sales, ticket sales or any other activity), could easily be asked to answer questions that officers have no legal authority to have you answer or better yet questions that have little to no bearing on the function of their assigned duties under the law.

Basically the point of this do you have the right to travel within the United States with however much money cash you want. Do you have to right to not answer questions in regard to you employment, activities, plans, political affiliations among other things? Needless to say it is not the responsibility or interest of any police officer or government agent of any department to advise you of your rights at any time. Infact the day to day operations of may departments predicates that you do not know and do not care to utilize the rights you have under law.

This is brought up to ask questions more then to give any one opinion or legal reading but it is pertinent to know two things:

1. Anything you say can and will be used against you (and never in your defense).
2. Not answering questions does not imply guilt, just that you are willing to spend time fulfilling the curiosity of agents who feel it’s their legal and moral right to have any and every point of interest answered.

To clarify those points you have the great and simple faq of your constitutional rights provided by one of Tony Fitzpatrick’s favorite groups “The National Hobo Museum” on top of that here is a very good primer on “why” saying anything less then 100% truthfully and accurately can harm you and in all even the most innocuous statement can be used against you and never in your defense (Rule 801(d)(2)(A) thrown out as hearsay).

I have seen way too many artists lack of knowledge of the legal, financial & business rights and terms used against them to exercise information or money out of them over the years. It’s important to watch after yourself since no one else will.


Operations Manager at Bad at Sports
Christopher Hudgens is the Operations Manager for BaS and works in various other capacities for other organizations in the Chicago Art & Culture scene. Most recently as Business Operations Manager for the Bridge Art Fair and currently an advocate for all things art & technology.

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