We hoped we wouldn't have to tell you this, but it's happening: the most repressive members of Berkeley's city government, including mayor Shirley Dean, city attorney Manuela Albuquerque, and city manager James Keene, are trying to get the City Council to change the anti-nudity ordinance from a misdemeanor to an infraction. The stated goal of this change is to eliminate our access to
As if that wasn't enough, they also want to "repeal the exemption for conduct to which it would be unconstitutional to apply the ordinance"!
In the four-page proposal, Albuquerque trots out her standard concept that citizens are incompetent to apply the law; that matters of Constitutionality are too technical for "lay people" to resolve.
The X-plicit Players have always claimed that there is widespread appreciation of public nudity in Berkeley. We have seen the great majority of local citizens are happy to accept the appearance of naked people in public. Popular support has sustained us through six years of legal battles, including five trials, all of which have been decided in our favor.
When the jury acquitted Deb Moore and Nina Shilling in October 1996, they spoke for the citizens of Berkeley. The District Attorney's office heard their voice, because since that time they've refused to prosecute any of the FIFTEEN citations filed against us.
We feel that local law should reflect the shared sensibilities of local citizens. The attempt to recast the anti-nudity ordinance as an infraction is a clear-cut attack on this idea. The whole point of the move is to exclude the voices of Berkeley citizens from the effects of the law. This must not happen.
Ironically, the City and District Attorneys are in complete agreement with us on a crucial point; their proposal states: "it would be futile to prosecute any further nudity cases, involving claimed free speech, as misdemeanor, unless the ordinance was amended to give the prosecutor discretion to charge the offense as an infraction." To us, the inescapable inference is to eliminate these prosecutions; stop wasting the people's time and money. To the City Attorney, the inference seems to be: eliminate the citizens from the legal process; silence them completely.
The people of Berkeley have supported us, and we support them. We trust their judgments about the anti-nudity ordinance, and we are adamantly opposed to a legal maneuver aimed at excluding those judgments from the legal process.
We call upon everyone who cares about the just application of the anti-nudity ordinance to tell the City Council in no uncertain terms:
Don't change the anti-nudity ordinance to an infraction.
Hands off the juries!
Make sure constitutional protection remains a part of the law!
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City Council to Vote on Anti-Nudity Ordinance
Anti-nudity charges dropped against Berkeley's X-plicit Players
X-plicit Players Main Page