Loincloth at Pride Festival Leads to Jail

Man files claim against city for an arrest at last summer’s Gay Pride festival

Denise Terrell

An arrest made during last summer's Pride festival in Balboa Park could cost the city of San Diego some money.

The charge? Public nudity.

The case was never prosecuted.

Now, a civil claim has been filed against the city.

The 30-year-old arrestee and claimant, Will Walters, says he was just expressing his fashion-sense during the San Diego LGBT Pride festival in July.

He insists that his leather outfit, featuring a loincloth getup over thong underwear, completely covered his genitals.

A police officer who encountered Walters at the beer garden apparently thought the display bordered on illegality.

"He said I needed to sign this citation or I was going to jail," Walters recalled in an interview Wednesday.

"I said, 'Well, you're going to have to take me to jail, because I'm never going to sign something I'm not allowed to read,’” he said.

“All I wanted to know was, how can I correct a problem, and what's the problem? And the problem was presented to me, and I said, 'that’s ridiculous,’" he added.

Walters wound up spending 12 hours behind bars after being removed from the Pride event by several officers, and taken to the Central Jail -- where, he says, even the booking deputy was amazed that he'd been cited for nudity.

Walters' lawyer, former assistant city attorney Chris Morris, sees the arrest as selective enforcement of a kind that's never been applied to beachwear seen at the Over-the-Line Tournament, or clothing at other events where crowds flash a lot of skin.

"You can't have one set of rules that are enforced for Mardi Gras and Over the Line and at La Jolla Shores, and another set of rules that are enforced at Pride," Morris argues. "You've got to set the rules and enforce them equally across the community."

On Walters' behalf, Morris last week filed a claim for $150,000 plus attorney's fees against the city.

Walters says equal enforcement and respect for civil rights are the principles involved.

"This [the arrest] is taking back our community so far," he explained. "A lot of people have worked very hard to make sure that we do have that parade. And I just want people to know that can go away if we don't stand up for ourselves and what we believe in.”

"[I want] to get education not only for the police officers, but my peers in my community, so they know what is right and wrong and when to stand up for themselves."

The Police Department referred questions about the incident to the city attorney's office.

So far, no comment from that precinct.

By the way, Walters' outfit wasn't just thrown together. With custom fitting and tailoring, he figures it cost him about $1,100 dollars -- and a lot of unexpected distress.

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