Topless Protester Arrested At Koreatown Sanders Rally Sues The LAPD
A 25-year-old woman who was arrested for attending a Bernie Sanders rally topless is now suing the LAPD and the city of Los Angeles.
Anni Ma was arrested on March 23 outside of the Wiltern Theatre in Koreatown during a Bernie Sanders rally. Photos of Ma from that night showed she was clad in a skirt and wore tape over her breasts. She and 22-year-old Tiernan Hebron, who was also arrested, both carried signs that read, "Free the Nipple," the slogan of an activist organization that advocates for women to have the right to go topless legally, just like men can. Ma was arrested on suspicion of indecent exposure after she, by her own admission, removed the tape, the L.A. Times reports.
According to the lawsuit, Ma claims that officers grabbed her and shoved her against a pole, demanding she put the tape back on. When she did not comply, she said an officer grabbed and handcuffed her. Ma spent the night in jail and was released the following day. Ma claims that the jail was so dirty that she developed a urinary tract infection.
The suit claims that her right to free speech was violated, and that the two LAPD officers involved in her arrest discriminated against her based on her gender, as she never exposed her genitals, arguing that "mammary glands are obviously not sex organs." She is seeking damages for emotional distress, bodily harm, medical expenses, bail and legal fees.
Ma has a history of showing up to things topless to protest what she believes is unfair treatment when it comes to women's nipples. Ma told the BBC's Newsbeat that she has been "doing top-free civil disobedience for a year and a half now." She interrupted a Sanders rally in Phoenix while topless prior to the rally at The Wiltern, and she also went to Comic Con in San Diego. There, she was able to get several photos that highlighted her cause. In the photo below, posted to Ma's Instagram account, you can see a topless man dressed as Game of Thrones' Khal Drogo wearing an outfit that Ma would likely be arrested for if she were to copy. Ma, for what it's wroth, was arrested at Comic Con, according to the BBC.
Khal Drogo! My goal for comic con was to ask for photos with the cosplayers who are legally allowed to show their nipples, mainly to point out the nipple hypocrisy but really it was an opportunity to ask for awesome photos! Why can't I have the same right to look as cool and fierce as he does?!? I feel really silly with this piece of clothe taped on! Free me! #freethenipple #freedom #freedomnipples #feminist #feminism #stillnotaskingforit #america #american #asian #asianamerican #sandiego #comiccon #cosplay #cosplayisnotconsent #nudityisnotconsent #topfreeisnotnudity #california #lgbt #lgbtq #genderfluid #equality #effyourbeautystandards #bodypositive #nomakeup ##creatingconsentculture
Ma is not alone in her campaign. The Free the Nipple movement has long argued that it is wrong for women's nipples to be treated differently than men's nipples. The campaign has found supporters in the likes of Miley Cyrus, Chrissy Teigen and a UFO sex religion called the Raelian Movement—they're the group behind Go Topless Day, which occurs every summer around the world. This year, Angelenos looking to attend should head to Venice Beach on August 28.
You can hear Ma talk about her activism in her own words in the video below (which is NSFW if your boss has a problem with boobs):