Naked TSA Protests Lead to Arrests, Mental Evaluations

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on April 20, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

For the second time in a week, an apparently irate airline passenger stripped naked in front of TSA agents in protest -- and promptly received a one-way ticket to jail.

John E. Brennan, 49, of Portland, Ore., disrobed upon arrival at the TSA security checkpoint at Portland International Airport about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, The Oregonian reports. He did so "as a form of protest against TSA screeners who he felt were harassing him," according to police.

Brennan's TSA striptease followed a similar incident at Denver's airport last week. So do these incidents signal a trend in naked airport protests, as the website Gothamist suggests?

Not really, a Forbes writer explains. While Brennan was allegedly protesting TSA harassment, the woman in Denver apparently suffered some sort of mental breakdown when she was asked to stop smoking a cigarette indoors. The naked woman was taken to a hospital for evaluation, ABC News reports.

But there have been a few legitimate naked TSA airport protests, dating back to at least 2010, according to Forbes. In one noteworthy case, a woman in a wheelchair stripped down to her lingerie to make a statement about intrusive pat-downs.

In another case from 2010, a college student stripped down to his underwear, showing off his bare chest -- on which he'd written the text of the U.S. Constitution's 4th Amendment (which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure), Forbes reports. The student sued over his arrest, asserting free-speech violations; the case is pending in federal court.

In the latest naked TSA airport protest, John Brennan was arrested in connection with indecent exposure, the purposeful display of one's genitals in public; and disorderly conduct, for disruptive behavior that presents no serious danger to the public.

The sight of Brennan in his birthday suit caused some passengers to cover their children's eyes, while others took photos and laughed, The Oregonian reports. Some photos and videos have been posted online.

If you're considering a similar naked TSA airport protest, you'll almost certainly get everyone's attention. Just remember your actions may have legal consequences as well.

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