Nude activist Trey Allen helps a blind woman through the front door at San Francisco City Hall as he protests San Francisco’s new ban on nudity on February 1, 2013 in San Francisco, California. At least four nude activists were arrested as they protested San Francisco’s new ban on nudity in public places. The measure proposed by Supervisor Scott Wiener is being challenged by activists who call the ordinance unfair because it grants exceptions for nudity at permitted public events. Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
Neal J. Riley – Updated 4:54 pm, Friday, February 1, 2013
SF GATE – (02-01) 16:44 PST San Francisco — Public nudity in San Francisco did not go away quietly on Friday, as police began enforcing a controversial new ordinance that prohibits baring all outdoors.
Nude activists Gypsy Taub, George Davis, Trey Allen and Dany DeVero were detained and cited by police after they stripped down in front of City Hall on a mild and sunny afternoon. A handful of other nudity proponents, some topless, carried signs and hurled insults at the dozen police officers who led the full-frontal offenders away.
“Freedom of expression is dead in this country,” Davis shouted as he was taken into a police van.
The nudity ban went into effect Friday. On Tuesday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by nudity activists who said outlawing public genital exposure violated their First Amendment rights.
Police gave the protesters a 15-minute warning to get dressed or receive a citation that comes with a $100 fine for a first offense. San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said officers were not given any special instructions related to the new law.
“We have no choice but to enforce the law,” he said.
Allen, 30, had “War is obscene, not my body” written on his back. Before the police came, he drew cheers from the crowd when he escorted a blind woman up the steps.
“This might be my first citation!” he said excitedly. “I don’t do it to protest, just to enjoy the weather.”
Mitch Hightower, a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the ordinance, said involving the police was exactly what the nudists wanted. U.S. District Judge Edward Chen left open the possibility of a future lawsuit if the nudists could prove that the law was inhibiting their political expression.