NBC12 obtains surveillance footage of student stripping at RIC

By Laura Geller - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – Tuesday night NBC12 took viewers inside the TSA checkpoint where a 21-year old Virginia man, stripped down in protest. We were the first to show you the surveillance footage from Richmond International Airport. It shows Aaron Tobey in his shorts, bare-chested with the fourth amendment written on his body.

Aaron Tobey said everything he hoped for when he planned this stunt has happened. The story has brought a national spotlight on a debate about civil liberties. What Tobey didn't anticipate was a criminal charge of disorderly conduct.

In the video, Aaron Tobey stands in line and pushes his belongings through a TSA x-ray machine just like any other passenger does at RIC every day. A few seconds later, the footage gets interesting. At the last moment before he's supposed to enter a scanner, he strips, taking off his sweatshirt and pants, revealing the words of the fourth amendment, which he had written on his chest.

"I stood there in running shorts for about two minutes," said the Charlottesville man. "I was quiet and composed the whole time. I wasn't shouting to get attention. It was just me standing there quietly with my hands behind my back."

The security cameras follow the action.

"Personally I thought it was a little bit of an overreaction," Tobey explained. "When the police arrived they took me to the other side of the checkpoint, handcuffed me and took me back to their station for screening, I mean questioning."

The fourth amendment guards Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures. The University of Cincinnati student said his goal was to instigate a conversation about what people are willing to give up in exchange for feeling safe

"It is my opinion that we shouldn't have to give up what I believe are our civil liberties to go on what is one of the most common modes of transportation that we have today," he said. "I think it's more important that we even just discuss it."

Tobey explained he has a history of being outspoken, but doesn't usually go to this extreme.

His court hearing on the disorderly conduct charge is scheduled for Monday morning in Henrico.  By the way, he said he's taking the train to get there, not flying.

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