Judge: Stripping naked to protest TSA is protected speech
A circuit court judge has ruled that a man who stripped down to his birthday suit to protest against airport security was not guilty of indecent exposure, according to the Associated Press.
Fifty-year-old John Brennan of Oregon took off his all clothes while going through an airport screening at Portland International Airport in April. He was arrested after refusing requests from Transportation Security Administration officers to put his clothes back on. Brennan was charged with disorderly conduct and indecent exposure.
Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge David Rees ruled Wednesday that Brennan’s airport strip show was an act of protest and therefore protected speech under the First Amendment.
Brennan said he decided to protest his treatment only once he was going through the security screening. While conducting a pat-down search, a TSA officer said he had detected explosive residues on Brennan. Since Brennan knew the officer must have made a mistake and was incredible frustrated by the ordeal, he decided to strip nude to show security he wasn’t carrying any explosives.
“I was aware of the irony of removing my clothes to protect my privacy,” Brennan said.
He is apparently not shy about nudity. Brennan takes part in Portland’s annual World Naked Bike Ride.
He is not the only person to have stripped down to protest airport security. An New Hampshire activist in January walked around the Manchester Airport in her undies to protest the TSA.
The TSA has been swamped with complaints regarding its security procedures at airports, which include new body scanner machines and pat-downs. The ACLU received over 900 complaints from travelers in November 2010 alone, not long after the new screening procedures had been implemented. Since then, travelers have continued to complain about the invasive security measures and accuse TSA agents of abusing their power.