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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Only In San Francisco: Cops Can't Force Naked Men To Put On Clothes

Posted By on Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 3:59 AM

The only code he's breaking is an aesthetic one.
  • The only code he's breaking is an aesthetic one.

On Black Friday, Rusty Mills and Lloyd Fishback stripped off all their clothes and headed down to Union Square with their genitalia flapping in the stiff winter wind. Mills wore only an Indian headdress and Fishback donned a pilgrim hat (Fishback says the hats tip off people that you're intentionally nude, not insane). They'd come to amuse or shock the shoppers -- depending on their 

click to enlarge The only code he's breaking is an aesthetic one.
  • The only code he's breaking is an aesthetic one.
sensibilities -- and it wasn't long until three cops rolled up responding to a woman's complaint.

But what happened next is what you could call an Only in San Francisco moment. Mills said two of the cops harangued them and threatened to arrest them if they saw them again. A third cop, who Mills recognized from patrolling the Castro, just told them to move on up the street. But none of the cops attempted to arrest the two.

In San Francisco, you can walk around nude on any day of the week on any street. Even if you're arrested, you'll probably be released after a couple of hours. Unless you're in a city park or a place that serves alcohol, it simply is not illegal to be naked.

As we wrote in this week's cover story "Overexposed," city law enforcement's interpretation of state law is that a naked person must be "lewd" in order to constitute indecent exposure -- meaning sexual gratification is involved. A nude person can also be arrested on grounds of being a public nuisance.

  • Nope, no arrest there.
Nope, no arrest there.
But as was clarified in a police bulletin from Chief George Gascon in August, the aforementioned require a private citizen to sign a citizen's arrest card. And not a whole lot of folks want to go on the record as a prude in this city.

Now the nudists are growing emboldened. A dozen have taken to hanging out in the plaza at the corner of Market and 17th Street in broad daylight. (Why, you ask? Check out their blogs here, here and here.) The nudists have started calling it The Buff Stop. Some walk down the street nude, too, like Woody Miller strolling home from work:


Mostly the cops have just taken to warning them when someone has called in a complaint about them -- and then leave them alone.

  • Naked in a Castro bar, too.
Captain Greg Corrales of Mission Station, which oversees the Castro, says he tells officers to keep their distance to save face. "The policeman is right there with a ridiculous naked person in the middle of 18th and Castro and the only one that looks like a fool is the policeman, because there's absolutely nothing they can do about it unless they have a citizen's arrest."

There goes Barry in his fedora now:

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Lauren Smiley


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