Nudists protest nude ban by getting naked at City Hall

Angry, unclothed activists reveled Tuesday in what might be their last opportunity to be loud and naked in the halls of government, save for their pending court ?challenge to San Francisco’s recent ban on public nudity.

The policy’s perfunctory second approval by the Board of Supervisors inspired about seven nudists to take off their clothes and yell anti-corporate slogans. Supervisor Scott Wiener, the ban’s sponsor, was a particular target.

While public nudity remains legal for now, City Hall rules already forbid it. But because that is just a building rule and not a law, deputies were hard-pressed to arrest anyone for the outbursts until Tuesday, when one of seven detained individuals was booked under a law forbidding interference with “lawful business by a public agency.” Ercell Fleurima, 41, also was charged with resisting arrest.

Wiener complained last week that Sheriff’s Department deputies didn’t quell an earlier nude-in quickly enough. Tuesday’s encore was more tightly controlled by guards, who ejected the nudists promptly so the meeting could resume after a hasty recess.

The Castro supervisor began his storied effort to ban nudity in October, after he said complaints from his district became overwhelming. Nudists can often be found sunning in Jane Warner Plaza, one of the neighborhood’s only public open spaces. At the time, Wiener said complaints centered on the impact on children and on some nudists’ use of genital jewelry to maintain erections.

Nudists responded to Wiener’s proposal with several City Hall protests and a promise to sue San Francisco in federal court on grounds that the ban violates their First Amendment rights. If Mayor Ed Lee signs the ban into law and the court challenge is not upheld, being legally naked on streets and sidewalks of San Francisco will become a thing of the past by Feb. 1.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

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