Walter Mencken 10:06 a.m., Feb. 6
Man Sues City Over Public Nudity Dispute
“Will Walters is a Hispanic, gay man who owns the dubious distinction of being the only person in the history of the City of San Diego to be arrested and booked on a charge of public nudity,” states a lawsuit filed by Walters against the city in federal court.
Walters was arrested at the 2011 LGBT Pride parade for, he says, wearing “thong” style underwear beneath an “opaque, gladiator type kilt.”
He alleges discrimination through selective enforcement by police, claiming that similar style underwear is permissible for women, and that the city “essentially allows thongs, g-strings, and other skimpy bathing suits to be worn by participants and attendees at straight special events, but not by attendees and participants at the one gay special event, Pride.”
Although Walters was allowed entry to the event by Pride employees after paying a $20 entry fee, he was approached by police officers while waiting in line to purchase a drink and forcibly removed. He says Pride security officials knocked his camera phone out of his hand as he attempted to record the incident.
After refusing to sign a citation, Walters was placed under arrest and taken to jail. There, he says San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies placed him in an individual cell visible to all inmates being taken into custody and invited them to ridicule him.
Despite the temperature difference between the festival and the jail, Walters says he was refused any additional clothing or a blanket until being ordered to change into clothing provided by the jail upon being released at about 2:15 the next morning.
Walters’ case asserts that the city’s enforcement of the public nudity policy violates his rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and he seeks an injunction as well as compensatory and punitive damages.