Court: ‘Nude-In March’ Can Go on Prior to Folsom Street Fair

Sep 25, 2015 11:39 AM PST

SAN FRANCISCO — The “Nude-In March” will go as planned this weekend.

Industry attorneys Lawrence Walters and Gill Sperlein obtained a federal court order today on behalf of their clients who now will be issued a permit to conduct a parade prior to this weekend’s Folsom Street Fair, the annual BDSM- and leather-themed street fair that caps the city’s “Leather Pride Week.”

San Francisco’s police chief earlier denied a parade permit to plaintiff George Davis and others who signed up for the “Nude-In March” after they filed a plan to strut down Market Street naked for the purpose of the “declaration of body freedom.”

In the denial, the chief explained that in light of the fact only 100 or fewer participants were expected, the march could be carried out on city sidewalks. He asserted the planned march therefore was not a “parade” under the ordinance and would not require a permit.

A judge today, however, sided with the “body freedom” advocates and issued an order granting preliminary injunctive relief, forcing the city to issue the parade permit.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg noted in today’s order that the city of San Francisco could not point to any provisions in the text of the parade ordinance “expressly assigning such discretion to the chief or providing standards under which it is to be exercised.”

“We suspect that the city was using the permit denial as a means to try to prohibit nudity at the event,” Walters told XBIZ. “We are elated with this victory, particularly given the compressed time frame in which the litigation occurred.” 

Walters noted that a resolution didn’t take long in the free speech case.

Davis’ complaint was filed on Wednesday, and an emergency hearing on his motion for temporary restraining order occurred yesterday. Today, Davis received the order forcing the city and police department to issue the parade permit.

“Rarely does a case go from filing to victory on the merits in two days, but the court obviously recognized the importance of the First Amendment issues, and the imminent injury to our client’s constitutional rights.”

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