Members of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals took advantage of the last day to be legally nude in public in San Francisco by stripping down in front of City Hall today to protest the use of animal skins for fashion.
Seven PETA volunteers got naked and stood in front of City Hall holding signs saying “Bare skin, don’t wear skin.”
San Francisco’s ban on nudity was enacted by a 6-5 vote of the Board of Supervisors in December and will take effect Friday.
PETA campaigner Matt Bruce said, “This is the last day, and we thought it would be a fun and upbeat way to bring attention to a serious issue.”
He said, “Whether you’re a nudist or not, we can all agree skinning animals alive while they’re fully conscious is wrong.”
Bruce said PETA has used nudity in past demonstrations in San Francisco and will have to alter its approach in future protests.
“We’re as naked as the law allows us to be,” he said.
The protest drew mostly amused looks from passersby, including dozens on a tourist bus who snapped photos on their cellphones.
A federal judge earlier this week rejected an attempt by nudist activists to block implementation of the ordinance on the grounds that it violated their constitutional right to free speech.
Violators of the ban, which has exceptions for children under the age of 5 and permitted events such as the annual Bay to Breakers race and the Folsom Street Fair, will be cited and fined $100, with rising penalties for additional offenses.
Nudist activists plan to hold a protest at noon Friday outside City Hall to test whether the law will be implemented, according to Gypsy Taub, one of the four nudists who filed the lawsuit in federal court.
Taub wrote on her website, “If the city chooses to get us arrested or cited, it will give us great ammunition for future legal battles.”
The nudists are preparing to file an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and will also file an amended lawsuit showing that their rights to free expression are being violated by the ordinance, Taub wrote.
“The struggle to overturn the nudity ban will continue until the ban is defeated,” she wrote.
Another one of the activists, George Davis, also plans at Friday’s rally to announce his candidacy for District 8 supervisor, the seat currently occupied by Scott Wiener, the author of the nudity ban.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News