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Oregon man says naked airport protest was about free speech

From Alta Spells, CNN
April 19, 2012 -- Updated 1431 GMT (2231 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The man is charged with disorderly conduct and indecent exposure
  • Brennan says he stripped naked as "a form of protest"
  • "As a citizen, one of my ways of expressing myself is being naked," Brennan says

(CNN) -- John Brennan says he did not go to the Portland International Airport intending to get naked.

However after feeling harassed by Transportation Security Administration screeners on Tuesday, the 50-year-old man stripped all his clothes off in a protest that got him even more attention from airport screeners, national headlines and a stint in jail.

"I just took off my clothes and said 'See, I don't have any explosives,'" Brennan said. "The individuals at TSA are just doing their job and the whole organization needs to find a balance between safety and privacy. They use fear and intimidation and it's got to stop somewhere."

The TSA had a different take on the incident.

Airport stripper speaks out

"TSA partners with the traveling public to screen all passengers safely and efficiently. When a passenger chooses to be purposefully disruptive, we notify law enforcement," the organization said in a statement.

Brennan said he lives in Portland and was traveling to San Jose, California, for business. After he went through the metal detector and was patted down, a screener told him he tested positive for explosives, Brennan said.

Brennan said he felt "humiliated," and that is when he decided to take all his clothes off. Brennan is no stranger to a naked protest as he has participated in a nude bike ride before in Portland.

"I am aware that's a tool I can use for free speech," said Brennan. "I know that as an Oregonian and as a citizen, one of my ways of expressing myself is being naked. It gets people's attention."

Brennan got a lot of attention by standing in his birthday suit near the security area where people were retrieving their shoes and putting their belts back on.

"Mr. Brennan's actions caused two screening lanes to be closed and while some passengers covered their eyes and their children's eyes and moved away from the screening area, others stepped out of the screening lanes to look, laugh and take photos of Mr. Brennan," a police report said.

TSA officials called police officers, and Brennan was handcuffed. He was walked back to a holding room as officers tried to drape a blanket on him.

Brennan was later taken to a county jail. He faces charges of disorderly conduct and indecent exposure.

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