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.”