ORLANDO, Florida – An appeals court has ruled that women can demonstrate topless as part of a legitimate political protest, striking down the arrest of a woman who has repeatedly flouted laws banning women from publicly going bare breasted.
The Seventh Judicial Circuit Court of Appeals on Oct. 5 upheld a county judge's opinion that Elizabeth Book could protest topless on the city's Main Street Bridge.
Book was arrested by Daytona Beach police and fined $253 during Bike Week in March 2004. The city said she violated an ordinance banning public nudity that was passed in 2002 to curb indecency at special events.
Book's attorney, Lawrence G. Walters, said the latest ruling is a victory for his client, who set out to test laws against nudity because she believes they are unfairly applied to women.
Deputy City Attorney Marie Hartman said the city "respectfully disagrees with the opinion." Hartman said the city is considering an appeal to a higher court.
Book also faces charges in a separate case, where she was arrested for appearing topless in front of topless Grecian statues near a city auditorium in July 2005. She has been charged with disorderly conduct in connection with the incident.