Portland airport stripper fights $1,000 federal fine

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PORTLAND — John Brennan, who stripped naked last year to protest a security check at Portland’s airport, said he expects to lose the first round of his legal fight against a $1,000 fine.

Still, he plans to press his free-speech argument in an appeal and push for effective security checks that aren’t as invasive.

“I totally support airport screening,” Brennan told The Oregonian newspaper in a story Thursday. “I just don’t want it to be at the expense of my constitutional rights.”

Brennan has a court date on Tuesday before an administrative law judge. His attorney, Robert Callahan, said the free-speech argument won’t be allowed as Brennan fights the fine, but an appeal in the federal court system would present an opportunity to make it.

A call to the TSA for comment wasn’t immediately returned.

In April 2012, as Brennan started a business trip to California, he declined to step into a Transportation Security Administration body scanner.

He was asked to walk through a metal detector and submit to a pat-down. A screener said traces of nitrates, which could indicate an explosive, were detected.

Brennan took off his clothes to show he wasn’t carrying anything explosive and to get the security check over quickly, he said.

Video broadcast today on KATU-TV shows TSA workers building a screen of plastic bins around him.

In July, a judge in Multnomah County found Brennan not guilty of violating a Portland ordinance that forbids exposing genitals in public and in the presence of the opposite sex.

The judge said Brennan was acting in protest and his strip was protected speech.

A few weeks later, Brennan said, he was told he’d be fined for violating a rule that forbids passengers to interfere with, assault, threaten or intimidate the screeners.

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