A gay man is suing the City of San Diego for what he says was a wrongful arrest for public nudity the city’s 2011 Pride celebration.
Courthouse News reports that the man, Will X. Walters, was arrested after officers approached him and he refused to sign a citation:
“He was dressed in leather gear consisting of boots, a black leather gladiator kilt, black underwear, and a black leather harness with chrome rings. His outfit ostensibly passed muster with the Pride personnel manning the admission gates, as Pride personnel ushered him into the event. His underwear and kilt completely covered his genitals, pubic hair, buttocks, perineum, anus or anal region as required by San Diego Municipal Code Section S6.S3(c). Mr. Walters had invested a significant sum of money in his leather gear and took special care to insure that he was compliant with the rules for the event,” the complaint states.
Walters says that even though he was admitted into the festival, Lt. Nieslit told him that his leather gear was “borderline.” While he was lining up for a drink, Walters claims, other officers approached him and forcibly escorted him outside. He claims Pride security knocked his camera phone out of his hand as he tried to record the incident.
After refusing to sign a citation, Walters was handcuffed, arrested and driven to jail, according to the complaint.
Apparently, the officers took issue with the thong he was wearing under his kilt, though I’m not sure how they knew what kind of underwear the man was wearing. Walter says the officers not only selectively enforced the code, but that they mistreated him while he was incarcerated, denying him food, water, and clothing and encouraging others to mock him.
“At the jail Mr. Walters was placed in a single cell visible to all inmates being checked in. San Diego County sheriffs deputies encouraged the incoming inmates to ridicule Mr. Walters, who was wearing only his kilt and underwear, and the deputies joined in the verbal harassment. In going from the hot environment of an overheated car to the air conditioned jail, Mr. Walters was chilled. The deputies refused Mr. Walters any additional clothing or a blanket. However, upon his release from jail, Mr. Walters was ordered to change into clothing provided by the jail. Mr. Walters was released from the jail at approximately 2:15 am, Sunday, July 17, 2011, after posting $190 bond. He had been given nothing to eat or drink since his arrest, some twelve hours prior,” according to the complaint.
Regardless of the particular circumstances around this case, I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around how a man wearing a kilt is considered “nude” (unless it was a really short kilt). San Diego does seem to have pretty strict nudity laws (no butts or breasts — at or below the areola, cleavage is allowed). Regardless, it seems like poor form to be so vigilant at a Pride event that folks have to pay entry to. It’s not like the guy had his junk hanging out.
What do you think? Righteous or ridiculous? Read more here.