National/World

Nudist group holds naked protest at SF City Hall

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The city of San Francisco is being sued in a legal action brought by a group fighting for the right to be naked in public.

Last week, a woman surprised onlookers at City Hall by taking her clothes off. But on Wednesday, the protestors stayed outside where they rallied against what they say is an attack on their civil rights. And these nudists have hired a lawyer.

A pre-emptive strike and a publicity stunt are opposing views of why nudists went to the federal courthouse Wednesday. They asked a judge for a temporary restraining order to try to block the city from banning what they call a fundamental freedom.

"I'm trying to protect the rights of my clients to engage in protected political speech, which is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution," attorney Christina Diedoardo said. She says they'll file a class-action lawsuit.

The nudists are protesting a proposed ban on nudity authored by Supervisor Scott Wiener, who says his constituents are sick of the "naked guys" who have all but taken over a plaza in his district.

"The lawsuit is, from what I can tell, a publicity stunt. It seems pretty frivolous to me. Nudity restrictions are common throughout the country and parts of California," Wiener said.

But the protestors say San Francisco is different.

"San Francisco was built off the Barbary Coast, nudity, sex, gambling... It does not have a purist origin," one woman said.

The show-stopping noon-time rally captured the attention of tourists and a documentary camera crew from Norway. And a mother of the bride from Boston was not amused.

"It's a little extreme. I mean, if you want to do it, go ahead, but you don't need to do it in public," Nicky Meltzer said.

Mayor Ed Lee agrees. "We're talking much more than just first Amendment rights and people have gone overboard with their exhibitionism," he said.

Another protest will be held at City Hall Saturday, and next week the full board of supervisors will vote on the proposed ban.

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