PORTLAND — A high-tech worker who stripped naked at Portland International Airport as a protest against airport security screeners said today he was being “nude but not lewd,” and characterized his act of defiance as protected political speech.
John E. Brennan, 49, of Portland was charged with disorderly conduct and indecent exposure after taking off far more than this belt and shoes during the screening process before a Tuesday evening flight to San Jose, Calif. The incident report from the Port of Portland, which operates the airport, said some passengers covered their eyes and the eyes of their children. Others laughed and took photos.
Brennan, in an interview at his home, said he did not arrive at the airport with the intention of getting naked. He said the Transportation Security Administration crosses the line between privacy and security. He decided to protest after he was pulled aside after going through the metal detector and a pat down, he said.
Port police officers arrested Brennan after he ignored requests to get dressed.
“The most effective way to tell them I’m not carrying a bomb is take off my clothes,” Brennan said. “My body should not be illegal and I am not ashamed of my body. So I just took off my clothes.”
Authorities led Brennan from the screening area with a towel around his waist. Brennan estimated he spent about an hour in a holding area before he was transferred to a downtown Portland jail. He was released late Tuesday.
Brennan previously criticized the TSA and what he sees as its invasive security measures in a tweet last May, saying “#tsa violated my privacy today at SJC. Headed home, went through full security then additional pat down. They won’t provide doco of event.”
In December, he tweeted: “Violation of my privacy at LAX. TSA is so messed up.”
Annie Lindstrom, a spokeswoman for the Port of Portland, said two screening lanes closed temporarily during the incident, but there were no flight delays.
This was not the first time Brennan has undressed for political reasons. In Portland, the World Naked Bike Ride attracts thousands each year to protest oil dependence. Brennan said he has ridden in the event three times.
Brennan booked an Alaska Airlines flight to San Jose for Wednesday night, and had no plans to protest.
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