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San Diego Pride Nudity Trial Underway

San Diego Pride Nudity Trial Underway
San Diego Pride Nudity Trial Underway GUEST: Kristina Davis, reporter, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Our top story a Mid-Day Edition, is there selective enforcement of nudity laws in San Diego? If so, is San Diego's gay community a frequent target? Those are the questions a federal jury is being asked to decide in the discrimination lawsuit brought by Will Walters. The case stems from an incident in the 2011 gay pride parade in San Diego where he was cited for violating the city's public nudity law. Joining me is Christina Davis, with the San Diego Union Tribune. Christina, welcome. Thanks for having me. Will Walters was arrested at the parade in 2011 after police attempted to issue him a ticket for public nudity. Did you describe the outfit he was wearing at the time? Sure. He was wearing a gladiator costume. It was something that he had custom-made for him. He paid about $1000 for it. It was a leather kilt with 12 by 12 inch flaps that covered his front and back. He was wearing thong underwear underneath it. Police said the way that he moved, you can see his brotox underneath and the flop would go up and down. So was the interaction between Williams and police back in 2011 confrontational? Yes, I would say so. Police said he was very agitated and they were asking him to cover up and put something on his bottom and he basically refused. It turned into quite the confrontation both inside the festival grounds and outside. Walters claims the police discriminated against him. Does he have any evidence that police treat pride different than let's say public beaches are other festivals? The trial is ongoing so the totality of the evidence presented. One of the items that was presented at trial they did go through the number of public nudity tickets at the department has issued between 2007 to 2012. Of the 100 or so tickets for public nudity, Walters was the only one ticketed for wearing a phone. Police say that that is because they ask people all the time and special events who are maybe wearing thongs or other inappropriate outfits to cover up. They say they usually do which means they don't have to write people tickets. I think the problem in this trial is that that's not documented either. I haven't seen anything from the police that officially documents how many people they told the cover-up and have complied. Did police change the way they enforce public nudity at this 2011 pride event? I think that's also unclear. At this point as well. The police say that they enforce the nudity law the same at gay pride over the other liquors but before -- over the other gears. But there was an unofficial policy and gay pride the people could wear a one inch strip in the back and that would be fine. But the police Lieutenant who testified on Wednesday said that he was never aware of that policy and that was nothing that they consider and enforce a lot to say. It will be interesting see test to see if more comes out about that. Do you know if it's up to the police to determine how they look at the policy? I think yes to a certain degree the law is the law. The public nudity law basically says among other things that the but talks must be -- the products must be covered. Is up to interpretation white buttocks means. Is at around portion or the full buttocks. Officers to say there is a good amount of discretion in their jobs and what to enforce and what not to. But all of the officers who did testify, they all took the law to mean and their supervisors told him that the law should be interpreted to say the full buttocks should be covered. Okay. This case is actually been kicking around the courts for sometimes no that sometime now has a net. That's correct. It was initially dismissed by the federal judge a few years ago. Walters appealed and it went to the next circuit. The next circuit said that there were some serious issues in this case and they think that the jury should decide on. Here we are in trial. Good this case have the potential of changing San Diego's public nudity law or the enforcement of its? They've made a big point to say that the law itself is not on trial here. The law is the law. Of the law is going to change it needs to go through the appropriate venues and to the city Council or a ballot measure or whatever you need to do. But I think it could change the enforcement. I think of the jury finds that the police are inappropriately enforcing the law or selectively enforcing it or maybe they do not have quite the right interpretation of what the law says, I think that that could come up if they find against the Police Department. We will continue to follow this with you. I've been speaking with Christina Davis with the San Diego Union Tribune . Thank you Christina.

Pride Nudity Lawsuit
A lawsuit filed by Will Walters alleging San Diego police discriminated against him during the 2011 San Diego Pride Parade.
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The City of San Diego and several of its police officers are defending themselves against a federal civil lawsuit claiming police discriminated against a gay man at the 2011 San Diego Pride Festival.

Plaintiff Will Walters was wearing a gladiator-type kilt that police said exposed part of his buttocks. But Walters’ suit accuses police of selectively enforcing the city’s public nudity ordinance.

There were 104 citations for public nudity between 2007 and 2012, but Walters was the only one cited for wearing a thong, according to Walters. Police say they ask many others, including women, to cover themselves because they are violating the ordinance, but most agree and don’t get cited.

Kristina Davis, a reporter covering the trial for The San Diego Union-Tribune, joins KPBS Midday Edition on Friday with more on Walters’ allegations.

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