Naked protestors stormed San Francisco City Hall to show their anger after a controversial ban on public nudity was narrowly approved by city officials.
San Francisco sheriffs were forced to cover up the bare activists who stripped off their clothes during a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting at San Francisco City Hall, California.
The board voted to pass legislation that will amend the city’s police code to ban nudity on city streets, plazas, sidewalks and other public spaces. Nudity during permitted parades, fairs and festivals will still be allowed.
About a half dozen angry protesters stripped down to their socks but sheriff’s deputies quickly covered up the demonstrators and led them from the majestic beaux-arts chamber.
Protesters, one wearing only rainbow knee socks and another sporting black nylons, chanted, “body freedom” and “shame on you” as they were escorted out.
Some residents and business owners say nudists, and specifically a group known as the Naked Guys, have gone too far with their constant presence at a square in the Castro District.
But nudists claim a right to bare all and say politicians in San Francisco, which has often celebrated the bizarre and unconventional, should leave them alone.
San Francisco lawmakers narrowly approved the proposal to ban public nakedness, rejecting arguments that the measure would eat away at a reputation for tolerance enjoyed by a city known for flouting convention and flaunting its counter-culture image.
The 6-5 Board of Supervisors vote means that exposed genitals will be prohibited in most public places, including streets, sidewalks and public transit.
Scott Wiener, a city supervisor representing the Castro District, introduced the proposal which would stop backsides and genitals being exposed in public.
“This has been a very difficult issue, a lot of strong views on both sides,” Scott Wiener told Reuters after the vote.
“But it was an issue that needed to be addressed, and I addressed it in a very narrow way.”
The ban would prohibit most nudity in public, but it would continue to allow marchers at special events, like the San Francisco Pride Parade, to bare all. Children under 5 can be naked in public and sunbathers can continue to strip down on nude beaches.
California state law prohibits indecent exposure, but law enforcement must show evidence of lewd behavior rather than simple nudity. A number of cities, including San Jose and Berkeley, already have nudity bans, Scott Wiener said.
Four nudists, including a former San Francisco mayoral candidate, have filed suit challenging the ban. Attorney Christina DiEdoardo, who represents the plaintiffs, says the city is depriving nudists of their constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection.
“Now the city is going to have to spend considerable time and money to defend an ordinance that didn’t have to be passed,” Christina DiEdoardo said.
San Francisco last year required nudists to cover the surfaces they sit on in public places and to wear clothes in restaurants. Residents say the restrictions spurred defiant exhibitionism.
Violators under the city’s nudity ban would be fined up to $100 for a first offense and $200 for a second. Three-time offenders would face up to a year in jail and a $500 fine.