SAN FRANCISCO—A small group of nudists re-filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Friday, March 15 in order to go against a city of San Francisco ban regarding nudity on public streets, sidewalks and transit vehicles.
The nudist activists stated the law went against rights of free speech because police have allegedly enforced the ban against their nudity during their political protest but not for those who participate in various other nude events. The measure was enacted by the Board of Supervisors last year but was not put into effect until February 1. First-time offenders can be punished with up to a $100 fine.
A previous version of the lawsuit was dismissed January 29 by U.S. District Judge Edward Chen of San Francisco who stated nudity is not protected by free speech since it “is not inherently expressive.” Chen stated the activists could file an amended lawsuit if they wished to argue that discrimination was used when enforcing the measure against them.
The amended lawsuit added a fifth plaintiff, Russell “Trey” Aleen, in addition to the prior four plaintiffs Mitch Hightower, George Davis, Russell Millis and Oxane “Gympsy” Taub. All plaintiffs are residents of San Francisco besides Taub who lives in Berkely. The City of San Francisco and the Police Department are named as the defendants.
The suit requested the judge to state the law unconstitutional as applied to the plaintiffs in addition to temporarily providing a restraining order and preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the law. A hearing has yet to be scheduled for the lawsuit against the measure. The city’s lawyers have up until March 29 to either file a response to the revised lawsuit or request for dismissal.
The law was written by Supervisor Scott Wiener banning public nudity on streets, sidewalks, plazas, transit stations and vehicles. Exceptions to the law include children under five years of age and parades or fairs that have received the appropriate permits. Separate city laws ban nudity in restaurants, public seating areas and parks.
The lawsuits states Davis, Taub and Allen were arrested on February 1 for nudity at a political rally held in front of City Hall protesting the law. Davis was arrested again on February 27 during a nude artistic dance performance that was organized by the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit continues to stated that none of the plaintiffs or other nudists were arrested on February 17 when they took part in a film shooting and again on March 9 when other groups organized a nude bike ride.
“Defendants have taken every opportunity to strike at plaintiffs at events they organize, while apparently being struck by a feeling of obliviousness when it comes to events organized by others who are not part of this lawsuit,” the lawsuit claims.
By Ivetta Babadjanian