Stripping naked at airport was the 'right thing to do,' man says

Stripping naked at airport was the 'right thing to do,' man says »Play Video
John Brennan, of Portland, speaks Wednesday outside his home about why he stripped naked at Portland International Airport Tuesday evening.

PORTLAND, Ore. - The man who stripped naked in a TSA screening line at Portland International Airport Tuesday evening says it was the 'right thing to do' for the situation.

John Brennan, 50, was arrested after TSA screeners ask him to put his clothes back on but he refused. He appeared in court Wednesday and was charged with indecent exposure. Another charge of disorderly conduct was dropped.

Brennan said TSA screeners pulled him aside when the security detector picked up traces of explosives, and he figured the best way to show them he didn’t have any was to literally show them that he didn't have any.

During an interview with KATU News Wednesday at his Portland home, Brennan was reserved, thoughtful and articulate. Even witnesses and police at the airport Tuesday night said he was the same way – calm and collected.

There weren't any drugs or alcohol involved, and he was arrested without any sort of physical struggle.

But Brennan, who is a frequent flyer, said he was frustrated with not being told what was going on.

"I felt, actually, calmer than I do today," he said. "It just felt like the right thing to do. I was very calm, I was very aware that I wanted to cooperate, and other than putting my clothes back on, I believe that I cooperated with the TSA."

Brennan has never been arrested before, but it wasn't the first time he has been naked in public. He takes part in Portland's naked bike ride, which is another form of protest.

His most recent protest is getting "exposure" around the world. He's getting calls and emails from just about every news and entertainment outlet.

He said it's his right to be naked in public.

"It's my understanding that in Oregon, being naked is protected speech – that I can be naked as a form of protest. ... To me the solution was easy – take off my clothes. I'm not ashamed of my body and that's how we can get to an answer here. Unfortunately, the TSA chose to take a different route."

Passengers snapped pictures and some blushed and hid their eyes.

"When they took me away, draped, I was trying to look dignified, and I heard some guys laughing in the café, but that was it," Brennan said.

The charge of indecent exposure is a misdemeanor. So the incident isn't keeping him out of airports. He flies a lot for work and he's taking a plane out Wednesday night.

He said he probably won't be seen again at the airport naked, because he doesn't want to be blacklisted by the TSA. He'll find other ways to protest.

He said he may fight the indecency charge, but he's waiting to get a court-appointed attorney.