Court sides with man arrested for ‘nudity’ for wearing a loincloth to Pride

Nick Duffy April 6, 2016
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An appeals court has sided with a man who was arrested for wearing a skimpy Gladiator loincloth to San Diego Pride.

William X Walters was arrested at the 2011 Pride festival for wearing the loincloth outfit – but failed to bring formal charges against him.

He later filed a suit against the SDPD,  claiming San Diego police officers had selectively enforced the law by allowing women in G-strings at a beach volleyball tournament, while targeting him for marching at Pride.

The police allegedly imposed harsher rules for the Pride event – requiring buttocks to be “fully covered” where previously a “one-inch” strip of underwear was considered adequate.

After a court battle lasting years, this week the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a ruling in the city’s favour- finding that evidence must be heard of alleged San Diego Police discrimination.

The three appeals court judges wrote: “The district court erred in granting summary judgment for the City of San Diego and Lieutenant Nieslit on Walters’ Equal Protection Clause claims.

“There are material triable issues of fact as to whether the San Diego Police Department adopted a discriminatory policy of selectively enforcing the City’s nudity ordinance at San Diego Gay Pride in 2011.

“Walters presented evidence that Lieutenant Nieslit, the Lieutenant in charge of SDPD’s Special Events unit, attended a planning meeting of Pride Event volunteers and announced a new, more restrictive nudity policy for the Pride Event, which required that attendees fully cover their buttocks.

“Previously, by contrast, SDPD had enforced a ‘one-inch rule’ at the Pride Event, which only required a one-inch strip of fabric covering the center of an attendee’s buttocks.

“Walters also presented evidence that beachgoers and attendees of other special events in San Diego were in violation of the new nudity enforcement policy, but that SDPD did not increase enforcement anywhere except the Pride Event.”

“That an officer referred to Walters as a “drama queen” during his arrest is additional evidence of discriminatory purpose,

“We therefore reverse the grant of summary judgment in favor of the City of San Diego and Lieutenant Nieslit.”

Mr Walters agreed to drop false arrest and battery claims in order to pursue a discrimination argument.

His lawyer told the San Diego Tribune: “We are confident they’ll see this case the way we have, which is that Will Walters was discriminated against by the San Diego Police Department.”

More: arrest, Gay, loincloth, nudity, police, Pride, San Diego, US

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