Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Breast arrest in Berkeley

By kbender
Friday, June 13th, 2008 at 4:06 pm in Uncategorized.

It seems odd that there is an anti-nudity ordinance in Berkeley of all the liberal places on the planet. But the law has been on the books for almost a decade and that means you can’t show your stuff in public _ no matter how much you want to.


Pamela Bennett, a 45-year-old Code Pink activist was arrested at the the Breasts Not Bombs rally Friday because she didn’t follow the rules, police said. “feel that this is really silencing the message. If Berkeley can’t allow (nudity) for a few minutes then where are we with free speech?” said Bennett.

She thinks the arrest was political and that police targeted her because she’s been arrested three times before at the Marine recruiting center for tresspassing. Police say she was told to put her pink top back on once and didn’t do it. The second time she got the cuffs and a trip to the Berkeley city jail.

“I didn’t plan to get arrested today,” she said. “I planned on baring my breasts (for a news photograph) and getting that photograph out there to show warmth, nurturing and peace. I wanted to counterbalance the other (negative images of war) that are out there and show the vulnerability,” she told me Friday afternoon after being released from jail.

Bennett was headed back downtown to the embattled recruiting center, which has been under fire since February when the City Council called them “uninvited and unwanted intruders.” She wasn’t sure if she was going to show her breasts again. She said she’d drawn a pair of boobs on her clothing and written the word “Danger” nearby to make a point.

Nudity in Berkeley wasn’t outlawed before the late Andrew Martinez, formerly known as the Naked Guy, began showing his stuff on the UC Berkeley campus in 1992. He led campus nude-in and nobody really cared. Nudity without lewd acts was not illegal.

UC Berkeley eventually banned nudity and asked Martinez to leave, issuing its “Policy Statement Concerning Public Nudity and Sexually Offensive Conduct” in December 1992. In 1999, the city adopted an anti-nudity ordinance, after Martinez attended a City Council meeting naked. Martinez was once part of the X-Plicit Players, a group of naked folks that had historically been in Berkeley events and parades, including the How Berkeley Can you Be parade.

This year, they were asked to stay home. When we wrote the story, organizer Greg Keidan told me this.  “For some reason, some people in Berkeley didn’t want to see naked people in the streets. They (organizers) wanted to make it more of a mainstream event.”








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10 Responses to “Breast arrest in Berkeley”

  1. Berkeley Sprout Says:

    Pamela Bennett says she was singled out because of her previous arrests… well, why wouldn’t the police be keeping an eye on her since she has tresspassed against the Marines three times in the past 6 months?

    Nothing soft or nurturing about most of those involved in this protest. Just mean and ugly treatment towards the Marines who treat them fairly, while doing their job — helping adults who want to enlist in an all-volunteer military, in defense of the Constitution that provides us the right to free speech, as long as it is non-offensive. The BPD doesn’t limit what Code Pink says — just asked them not to be naked while saying it. Those of us with children think that’s entirely fair.

  2. Sky Walker Says:

    this is my response to the Berkeley Sprout comment left on June 16th at 3:49. this person states that the protesters were mean and ugly in their treatment of the Marines.

    Not true we were passionate and wanting to be heard, the Killing and maiming of the people of Iraq and the contineous death of our soldiers is ugly and murder is the highest form of Meaness.

    Our hearts are crying because of the death and destruction that our children in the Armed Forces are causing to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, all for profit and world domination.

    Rep:Dennis Kucinich has filed 35 articles for the Impeachment of the Bush administration which includes the following:The first article Kucinich presented, and many that followed, regarding the war in Iraq: “Article 1 – Creating a secret propaganda campaign to manufacture a false case for war against Iraq.

    The First Amendment states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    this is not stated in the First Amendment “as long as it is non-offensive.”

    What is offensive about nakedness,we all were born naked and pure. When people are naked they are vunerable and honest for they have nothing to hide behind. I was proud to stand with the brave committed women and men who stood before the war machine’s agents of Death to remind them of their hummanity.

  3. Janine Says:

    Kristin is always misreporting and calling it reporting. I was there and Miss Bennett briefly exposed her breasts a second time for a photo. Her clothes were on when she was arrested. It is not just Miss Bennett who believes this arrest is political, it is a political arrest.
    What offends me is not women’s breasts, but this war and the perpetraters of it, Pelosi, Bush, Cheney and gang (congress, most of it)
    These women managed to pop the zombie bubble everyone is sleep-walking in, and that is the reason the police moved so fast
    Do people really think mayhem will result from exposing breasts?
    Mayhem is what happens when we go to war people.
    That is the problem, not our nudity laws. And Bender going on and on about nada in her article trying to make it look like Code Pink is is the wrong is only going to work on the ignorant somnambulant few.

  4. Pamela Says:

    What is this, “no matter how much you want to” comment?
    I certainly didn’t want to. Could it be a case of projection? Could you have a secret desire to bare your own, Kristin?
    I bared my breasts despite being very uncomfortable about it—not that being uncomfortable gives me any kind of extra ‘decency’ or ‘purity’.

    I bared them because of this war, because our idea of what is indecent should be challenged.

    We are killing innocents.Women and children make up 70 percent of the muders our country perpetrates on Iraq, for oil, make no mistake.

    Breasts are survival, are life. War is death and extinction. War means infants and children suffer terrible wounds and death. And that isn’t enough for this insane administration. They deal death long-term for the planet with depleted uranium.

    Babies are being born with their brains outside their heads inIraq due to contamination. Do you not understand that the rains will come and wash that into the rivers which will flow into the sea and affect us all? The half life is 600 billion years.HHmmm. Ithink that might be a little indecent.It’s obscene!

    I had my top off once for three minutes and a second time for about a minute, whereupon I put my top back on. They arrested me several minutes later, when it was still on.

    Where was our hour, to get out the message?
    And never insinuate to me that I “enjoyed” it. You know nothing of what I feel, because you don’t really listen with an open heart or open ears, Kristin.
    You listen with prejudice, judgement, and blame.
    And were Ito enjoy it, that would have zero relevance on the issue of what I am attempting to convey here.
    I say attempting because my free speech WAS violated
    when it was shut down.
    Pamela Bennett, Code Pink activist, and supporter of Breasts not Bombs.
    By the way, I never called them “boobs” either.
    That was all you.By the way, that was me earlier
    posing as Janine because I didn’t want anyone to get my email. I didn’t realize that you don’t post it until I read more closely, and then felt safe to leave my own name. Sorry if that is a problem

  5. Jennifer Says:

    It is so sad that Ms. Bender was not able to understand let alone convey the intent of the action that took place. She is only reinforcing the objectifying of women and their bodies as sexual objects by not fully reporting this story. From other sources, including primary sources, my understanding is that the women who chose to bare their breasts did not intend for their actions to be interpreted as in favor of daily nudity as the reference to the “Naked Man” implies. Instead, it was to draw attention to societal imbalances that exist. We value bombs above the nurturing way we feed our children? Ms. Bender’s article is not only short-sighted but irresponsible in the amount of truth and depth that is left out and the misguided direction it takes.

  6. julia Says:

    Not sure why my first message didn’t get posted but I want you all to watch this, please.


  7. Janet Says:

    The Marines Recruiting office has not been “under fire” by protesters and the use of such inflammatory langugage, even metaphorically, belittles the real “fire” that Marines are under every day in Iraq.

    War is the real obscenity.

    The illegal de facto occupation of Iraq for the purpose of securing 30-year “production sharing agreements” for US oil companies is obscene. Recruiting young people into the sixth year of this occupation which was criminal from Day One is indecent. The shattering of bodies, including breasts, including nursing mothers’ breasts, by every weapon in the US military (and private contractors’) arsenals is indecent. The rape, torture, detention without due process, forced prostitution, murder suffered by Iraqis — all these and much more are profoundly obscene desecrations of human beings created in God’s image.

    The briefly naked breasts of women who wish to end this obscenity are sacred. They were bravely shown to a mostly amazingly apathetic public as a reminder of how we humans are nurtured and what is being destroyed on a daily basis in Iraq. Pamela should never have been arrested, and her ,in the most “naked-friendly” city I have ever been in, is evidence of the repression that cloaks the entire USA.

  8. Saloha Says:


    Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today….

  9. Boobs Unreal Boobs Boobies Says:

    Boobs Unreal Boobs Boobies…

    I can not agree with you in 100% regarding some thoughts, but you got good point of view…

  10. Greg Keidan Says:


    Just for the record I was not an organizer of this event, I was helping out with media relations and day of event logistics. The How Berkeley Can You Be Parade is organized by the Epic Arts Foundation, which is headed by Ashley Berkowitz. He was unhappy with me that I was quoted as saying the organizers wanted How Berkeley Can You Be!? to be a “mainstream” event. I should have said that they wanted it to be popular and family friendly; How Berkeley Can You Be!? is a celebration of all the unique and quirky and engaged aspects of the Berkeley community, it is NOT “mainstream” and neither is Berkeley, so sorry if I mis-spoke.

    Thank you for mentioning the How Berkeley Can You Be!? parade and festival, it is a great example of a fun and successful grassroots community celebration.

    Thanks for reading,
    Greg Keidan
    Public Engagement Consultant

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