Some of you may remember George Davis, the 64-year-old grandfather and "free body culture" advocate who ran for mayor of San Francisco. George is now a candidate for Supervisor in District 6, and as before has been campaigning in the nude. Politically George is a leftist who cares about civil liberties, not a libertarian (he lists his top three campaign priorities as Freedom of Expression, Freedom from Censorship, and Free Dental, Vision, and Hearing Care for Seniors). However, freedom lovers should be concerned about how police have been treating him.
According to his blog (http://georgedavisdistrictsix.wordpress.com/), members of the SFPD have been regularly harassing George and some of his fellow nudists in contravention of the California Supreme Court's 1973 ruling that nudity is not a crime, with George himself being arrested multiple times and cited on at least 22 occasions (all of the citations and charges have been dismissed, making this a huge waste of taxpayer resources as well as a human rights violation).
The good news however, is that the nudists' persistence appears to have paid off. According to George's latest entry on the subject, the SFPD have apparently backed down and adopted new, more sensible guidelines pertaining to public nudity, making it a policy not to arrest unless there is "obvious lewd and obscene conduct".
Of course time will tell whether or not these guidelines will be followed or whether this is merely a temporary tactic by the department perhaps not wanting to give George more publicity while he is running for office. In any case, it should not have taken a high-profile protest by a candidate for Supervisor in front of City Hall to get the police to respect the right of people to peacefully go nude in public. But we can all be grateful that people like George have had the courage to defy not only social stigma but legal harassment in order to stand up for the freedom to exercise this most basic of human rights. Temporary or not, they deserve our congratulations on this victory in getting unjust police practices reformed!
Love & Liberty,
((( starchild )))
George Davis's recent blog entries on the police harassment and protest against it (rom http://georgedavisdistrictsix.wordpress.com/):
August 9, 2010:
Email to SF Mayor, Chief of Police, et al.
On Saturday afternoon, August 8, 2010, while campaigning for D6 Supervisor on Market Street, George Davis and a campaign volunteer were stopped and cited by seven (repeat seven!) SFPD officers. George Davis is an official on the ballot candidate for the District Six seat. They were carrying an easy-to-read sign, “GEORGE DAVIS FOR SUPERVISOR DISTRICT SIX”. They were passing out campaign literature clearly stating the relevant bullet points of the campaign:
Freedom of Expression.
Freedom from Censorship.
Free Dental, Vision, and Hearing Care for Senior
The targeted electoral demographic of the campaign are “free thinkers” and Seniors.
The police time to issue the citations and further processing will cost the taxpayers of San Francisco over $1000. (enough money to fill the cavities of 10 Seniors) The police officers were made aware that the OCC has found these police actions in the past as “harassment.” (Harassment is the exact OCC finding.) They were made aware of in Re Smith (1973), the California Supreme Court Case and subsequent court findings that “Nude is not Lewd.” After 22 other such citations with zero trials and zero convictions, the police officers were fully aware that the citation would almost certainly be discharged.
As an aside, the officers tell me that they don’t think that it is their duty to tell citizens filling out a Citizen’s Complaint that they could be sued for false arrest if the complaint can’t be upheld in court. Wouldn’t you want that information before filling out a complaint? If a citizen doesn’t care about the potential consequences, why should the police pursue the complaint?
August 19, 2010:
[Supervisorial] Campaign turns into Police Harassment Campaign
On Wed., August 18, George Davis was arrested and cited in front of Macys on O’Farrell Street. His 3 companions Lloyd, Woody, and Bare were cited.
As a reminder, the police have cited George Davis 22 times in the past. The results have been 22 discharged cases and zero trials and zero convictions. In 15 different letters, the Office of Citizens Complaints (OCC) have found and specifically called these SFPD actions “harassment.”
These harassments make campaigning for Freedom of Expression and Freedom from Censorship very difficult, but also prove the necessity and value of the campaign. The harassments of the campaign volunteers makes it difficult to find people to work on the campaign.
On Friday, 1pm, August 20, George and a companion will begin daily protests against Censorship in front of City Hall. That’s where we will continue the Supervisor campaign too.
On Monday, August 23, the arraignment hearing will be at the Tenderloin Community Court, 575 Polk, at 1pm. We have no familiarity with that court which the arresting officer nicknamed “The Mayor’s Court.” Depending on the outcome of the hearing, weather, and time; we will continue the City Hall protests and campaign immediately thereafter.
August 27, 2010:
City Hall Protest August 20
Lloyd Fishback and George Davis protested in front of City Hall on a Friday afternoon over the 4 citations issued by the SFPD the previous Wednesday.
New nudist guidelines were issued by the police department shortly after this protest that conform to the California State court cases. The new nude guidelines should eliminate unjust SFPD harassment.
The protesters held a sign saying something like:
SFPD harassment of George Davis campaign for San Francisco District Six Supervisor.
California Supreme Court has ruled in Re Smith (1973) that “Nude is not Lewd.”
That is the law.
That is the truth.
That is reality.
August 24, 2010 (this was actually posted before the previous entry, but I'm posting it at the end because it refers to subsequent events):
(Attachment taken-to-police-station.jpeg is missing)