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Pasties in public don't cut it with Springs police


Dani Odalen, left, and Kacy Roberts had to deal with cops at - PrideFest here. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Dani Odalen, left, and Kacy Roberts had to deal with cops at PrideFest here.

The stickers, promoting equal rights in a 2-by-3-inch space, surely make for a teeny bikini top. But Kacy Roberts believed she was still obeying the law when she and her friends used the stickers as oversized pasties during last week's PrideFest in Colorado Springs.

At Denver's PrideFest in June, the 24-year-old says, she and her girlfriend went topless except for the stickers for an entire day, passing police officers who greeted them politely or said nothing.

At Colorado Springs' Acacia Park on July 20, her hometown police officers took a different approach.

"You need to get your fucking shirts, or you need to leave," she recalls a police officer saying at around 4:30 p.m. She and her girlfriend's sister were the only ones topless at that point, but she says officers then escorted their group of about eight friends and family members from the park.

Turns out the city's public indecency ordinance prohibits exposure of the "genitals or buttocks of either sex or the breast or breasts of a female." Lt. David Whitlock, a police department spokesman, says officers twice asked the women to either put on shirts or leave the park.

"That is a proper interpretation [of the law]," he says. "The only statutory defense is breast-feeding." (Note the law only applies in public spaces; businesses that offer burlesque shows and the like are doing so on private property.)

The women were not cited for public indecency, so there will be no First Amendment fight or legal arguments about whether the stickers adequately covered their breasts or not. But Dani Odalen says all that's beside the point. The 19-year-old tried to join her sister and Roberts by wearing stickers and going topless Sunday. She had adhesive problems, so she put on a bra "just to be on the safe side."

Wearing the stickers, she says, is a way of saying, "Hey, we're here and we're proud." The idea is partly to push limits and challenge people to think more expansively, she suggests.

"Some people are in the dark ages," she says, noting the "disgusted looks" she and Roberts sometimes receive in Colorado Springs when they go out as a family with Roberts' 6-year-old daughter.

That said, the city has been an inhospitable place for other statements involving scant clothing. Ashley Byrne, a campaign coordinator with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and a colleague wrapped themselves July 11 in a banner announcing "The naked truth: KFC tortures chicks" outside a branch of the restaurant on South Nevada Avenue. Underneath, they wore pasties, panties and nothing else.

Byrne says they'd been protesting 10 or 15 minutes when a Springs police officer arrived and "demanded that we drop our banner." They refused, but were escorted from the intersection and hidden with a blanket so they could sort through their clothes and retrieve their IDs. Byrne says the officer told them they would be cited for public indecency.

They were not cited. Whitlock says officers spoke to the protesters after responding to a fender-bender apparently caused by an overly curious driver. After a check of IDs, he says, the protesters were allowed to go back to what they were doing.

Byrne says in dozens of similarly themed protests across the country, that marked only the second time she had a run-in with police. The other time, she says, it was freezing cold and an officer told her to put on a coat.

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