My Wall Street Arrest – NOT Occupy Wall Street

| August 1, 2011 | 57 Comments

My Wall Street Arrest

The Story Of My Wall Street Arrest:

My Wall Street Arrest – No, this was not a protest and this was at least a month before occupy wall street even existed. No, I was not trying to jump the fence in front of the NY Stock Exchange to get back lost funds. I was acting in part of an art performance called Ocularpation! A piece contrived by artist Zefrey Throwell. As you might seen from our posts last week, Zefrey contacted us looking for people comfortable with public nudity to participate in his next artistic endeavor. (And what better people to contact than Young Naturists America?)

The performance took place this morning on Wall Street at 7:00 am. 50 people took part, all role-playing the various jobs on Wall Street, from janitor to fitness instructor to financial consultant. Zefrey was actually inspired for the project by his mother who lost all her retirement money in the stock market crash in 2008 and found herself broke and unemployed in her 60’s; a tough position to be in. His idea was to expose the mysterious inner workings of Wall Street and make people think about what actually happens there day-to-day.

Walking My Invisible Dog

Walking My Invisible Dog

I decided to sign up and was even more pleased when I realized the jobs were going to mirror the actual employment demographics. I played dog-walker, which represents 2% of Wall St workers. We met in the park first. I admit I was nervous, but ready for action with my invisible dog leash contraption, whistle and plastic bag. We soon headed to our assigned areas on the street.

At 7am I started walking my invisible dog. “Come on doggie!” Some amused glances from pedestrians. I took off my tank top and really started getting into my role. “Good boy, good boy!” Before things went any further, a police officer came up- “Put your shirt back on. Go put your shirt back on!” I quickly complied, and then to my surprise, he arrested me. Here is basically our conversation that followed..

Arrested On Wall Street

Arrested On Wall Street

Officer, putting on the handcuffs- “Here you go, is that what you wanted??”

Me- “No…”

Officer- “What is all this going on?”

Me- “It’s an art performance.”

Officer- “This isn’t art, this is retarded!”

Me- “That’s subjective…Isn’t it legal for me to be topless anywhere in NYC?”

Officer- “Yeah right what do you think you’re doin’ walkin around topless like you’re walking a dog. You need to come with me and be mentally evaluated, then after that maybe you’ll be free to go. It’s retarded, this is just stupid pretending to walk a dog with no shirt on. There are children around.” (I did not see one child during this performance.)

Me- “Sometimes people pretend to do things in art…”

My Wall Street Arrest Story

My Wall Street Arrest Story

He grabbed my belongings and brought me to sit with 2 other guys in handcuffs. They were a stock trader and a janitor who had totally stripped down during the 5 minute performance. One was told he wouldn’t get arrested if he put his clothes back on, but the officer “changed his mind.” So we sat there and then took a ride to the precinct to spend 2 hours in jail.

We all got a desk release with tickets and a summons for disorderly conduct. My fellow jailbirds also got indecent exposure charges. Just before we were released, an officer (I believe the same one I spoke to earlier) reasserted his opinion that we should’ve all been mentally evaluated first. Alas, his opinion was disregarded, and they gave us back our stuff, including the janitor broom and my makeshift leash, now bent up and distorted.

Still, pertaining to me personally, I have no idea what laws I broke or why I was even arrested. So far no one, not even the cops themselves, could explain to me what I did wrong.

My Wall Street Arrest by Felicity Jones was published by – Young Naturists And Nudists America YNA

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Category: Social Nudity Blogs, Felicity's Nudist Blog, Naked News, Public Nudity, Nudity Laws, Social Activism

About the Author ()

Author of Felicity's Blog. Co-founder of Young Naturists America. 3rd-generation nudie. Avid reader. Feminist. 70% vegan, 30% vegetarian. When I'm not busy eating, I'm writing about naturism, censorship, topfree equality, body image and other fun topics. I like feedback, so plz leave a comment when you've got something to say!
  • D

    Stupid way to protest. After you get raped, you will see i was correct. There are people out there that will rape the shit out of that girl, that is why the police got you off the street. They know what will happen, you should thank those policemen.

    • After I get RAPED? Are you serious?!? You think that's why I was arrested? So the cops could protect me from getting raped in public in the middle of Wall Street? Or are you one of those assholes who respond to a woman getting raped as, "She was asking for it" because of how she was dressed? I can't bare any skin in public because men can't control themselves? And that would make ME the criminal, is that what you're saying??? Please, don't even respond to this.

  • Robert

    If there was only this much transparency at 11 wall street.

  • Brandon Grant

    Wow! I'm actually talking to real naturists! This is amazing, I've never met a fellow naturist in my life. Finally, interacting with other like-minded people doesn't have to be so ephemeral. Sorry, but this isn't for any perverse intent. Just happy to meet new people, well, not physically, but a meeting nethertheless.

  • John

    Run the experiment again but have a guy do the same thing. Then take em to court. At this point in time going topless just shouldnt be that big of a deal

  • Avant G.

    This work apparently spawned "Occupy Wall Street", the massive social movement, which itself, will last at least until the weather grows cold.

  • Dave

    When I'm elected dictator, the legality of public toplessness will be based entirely on the attractiveness of the breasts.

  • Felicity, I congratulate you on what you did! Having said that, I agree with Paul Rapoport who is an expert on this subject. Technically it is still illegal for a woman to be topless in public in NYC because the law against it is still on the books even though it has been found unconstitutional. The fact that it is still on the books still gives the police the right to arrest you but your charges will be dropped because it is not worth their time to prosecute you just to loss the case later on constitutional reasons. The other tactic that the police will use is to arrest you for disorderly conduct which can be anything they decide is disorderly. Unfortunately the fact is that the police can arrest you whenever they want even if they know that the charges won’t stick.

  • Hardtail yoga pants

    Nice Article

  • Holly Van Voast

    Well, no matter what Felicity… this is all just the stuff that people have to go through to get to a place where the irrational doesn't rule like it's rational. That's all. I walk around completely topless as m character "Harvey Van Toast" — in Manhattan. Everywhere. Alot. And though the ignorant police officers and ignorant laypeople don't see that their reactions are simply irrational relics… that will happen in the end if we just all keep going.

  • Anonymous

    Since we had previously been talking about whether a permit should've been obtained for this, I came across an interesting interview with Zefrey that sheds some light on the thought process behind the whole thing..Regarding this matter, he says, "I don’t ask for permission because so many great public projects are shut down before they can even be fully planned." I recommend reading this interview! Located here: http://newcriteria.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/zefre
    @Bill Hendrickson's comment (the first negative reaction): 1st off, naturalists are people who study birds and biology. 2nd, yes we did want attention- every performance needs an audience, and the message/meaning and planning behind it makes it an art piece IMHO. But if you agree with what the cop did, what gave him the right to arrest me?

  • Barry Murphy

    Wonderful and it was within your rights
    If you need our help let us know
    Best Naturally
    Barry

  • Christina

    OMG!! I can't believe this. That is such BS!! So sorry to hear that you had to go through this. You should definitely try to fight it.

  • Bill Hendrickson

    Serves you right, you must be desperate for attention. There's a difference between nudists and naturalists and exhibitionists. I agree with the cop on this one, this is not art, just an attention ploy!

  • Bianca

    OMG FELICITY!!! thats madd doodoo. i just found out. tell everybody when your summons date is and i'm willing to come show support!! that can also me countered with sexism, considering, a guy topless wont get in trouble as opposed to a female..

  • jac

    Unfortunately, the police dont appreciate naturism in the public. With all that being said and done, I would not go through the drama with them. I tried the International Bike Ride and was told to put my clothes on and keep them on or get arrested…I kept my clothes on…Dont want the DRAMA..

  • M

    You're a worthy and entertaining keeper of the naturism torch. Thank you. Anyhoo,as far as I can tell,you broke NO law. By all means,enjoy the settlement. One would think the NYPD would have gotten tired of paying them by now,but apparently not.

  • cadfael

    It is so interpretive anymore. I believe the law essentially says a female can go topless anywhere a male can go but it isn't so black and white/yes or no. In NYC, definitely a permit was needed and the cops notified. The lawyer should have been onsite to intervene then and there. however, the city has a set of laws different from the rest of the civilized world in that probably even males can't go topless within city limits. maybe it was because you weren't wearing shoes at the time! lol In any event take solice in the fact that you wierded him out enough with the invisible dog that he'll probably ask to go on disability for mental stress! I applaud your making a statement and exercising your rights! I support you all the way!

  • ant

    please be sure to file a complaint and se it through to the end.

  • timmy

    This would never happen in Spain.

  • DejaNude

    This was a comment I found on one of the online articles:

    It's a poem which may cheer you up or amuse you:

    Birthday suits on the Street of Wall
    Gal and gents stood cool and tall
    Art in the glorious buff, y’all
    Education project thy noble call
    The First Precinct, the oldest in town
    Has seen it all with a groan and frown
    Surely, this public art caused a smile
    On that trillion dollar capital mile
    Or maybe just a nod and wink
    As we default, downgrade, and sink, sink, sink

  • DejaNude

    Hey Felicity,

    The media needs to be aware that you were topless and were arrested for disorderly conduct by walking a fake dog. You may want to formally contact the press, NY Times about the article they published and send out a new press release. Keep in mind that they did acknowledge this in their article when they state that you were dressed:

    "There, three people — two men and a woman dressed (briefly) as a stock trader, a janitor and a dog-walker — were arrested and taken to a nearby precinct, where they were given summons for disorderly conduct and later released."

    (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/arts/design/zefrey-throwells-ocularpation-wall-street.html)

    You may additionally need to submit an image as proof which you have. The more media coverage, the better chances you will be able to settle without having to go to court. Be sure not to sign any confidentiality agreements and fight this until you get exactly what you want.

    The police made a speculative error because the other men were butt naked. Your character in this art project needs to be identified precisely for what it is…a natural freedom.

    If I were you, I'd go back to the same location a second time and walk around the area topless with a man who is also topless. Let this make news headlines and you can reflect back on the incident prior as to the motive of this particular art project. Be sure to let the press know in advance so they can be on scene to cover the story exactly how it is. Also, have your own people filming and documenting the ordeal to be certain the press is not paid off.

    BTW: I spoke with the NYTimes Sync division and they mentioned this was a top story in their edition that week. Additionally, I told him I knew the girl and he was laughing about it stating "The one that went all the way?" He was later in dismay to learn that you were within her legal rights because you were topfree not bottomless.

    Seriously, you need to be strong and go back to the scene, making this a recurring offense/situation with one other person who is not completely naked. If you get thrown in jail once again, your case will be singled out separate from the other two guys who were arrested and charged wrongfully with "Indecent exposure".

    This is one reason why women don't take advantage of their topfreedom. Perhaps you will be the one to properly implement this change.

  • Bart

    Some on here have suggested "getting a permit" from the city… this is totally assinine! No one needs a permit to do something that is already completely legal, and in fact a guaranteed protected RIGHT of the people (to assemble, speech, etc.) Why is it that so much of the sheeple bow to their masters in government when in reality, it is supposed to be the government agents working FOR US!

  • James Percelay

    So the thieves on Wall Street don't get arrested for stealing real money, but someone innocently walking their air dog does. Sorry you had to go through that Felicity. Unjust.

  • I cannot add anything that has not already been said, except my complete support. I do hope there is some litigation though, as it would seem to be completely valid.
    -Danee

  • Walter

    Full nudity as done by your fellow performers is illegal, but recent court case sided with females in NY State, that women have the right to be topless. The decision stated if man can be topless than it is sexual descrimination for women to be told thay can not be topless.

    Hope you take action to secure your rights.

  • sylphr

    While YNA and I have not always seen eye to eye Felicity should not have been arrested let alone held and that alone should have umph in court if indeed it goes that far. A cop can not be offended regardless of personal views, since they are payed to be. A public citizen must make a complaint against an individual so Im not sure how she could be charged." disturbing the peace" at 7am? . Most nudity arrests are often because a cop happened to witness it and had to do something, not because of a public complaint. What bothers me is that I am constantly encountering and hearing about law enforcement that does not know the statutes and laws that are being enforced.

  • David D

    Congratulations – you just discovered why every jurisdiction has a "disorderly conduct" law. It is so vague and open to interpretation by the witnessing officer that ANYONE can be arrested and taken off the street. Sure, no "real" law was broken, but they can always nail you with disorderly conduct.

  • Douglas

    I think it's time that more women walked around topless in NYC and carried in their pocket a copy of the LAW that allows for being topless. Then, when cops give them shit, they can bring out the law, quote the code, put it back in their pocket, and move along.

    These asshole cops are starting to piss me off with their power tripping attitudes.

    And last I checked, it's not illegal to walk a fake dog, cat, or cougar. Might be weird, but weird isn't illegal. ;)

  • Anonymous

    Hey everyone, I just want to thank all of you for the comments and support!!
    Mike and Paul,
    I know you both have good intentions, so allow me to clear the air! First let me answer Mikes question. It is true that the artist did not get a permit or notify police, so you make a good point. The performers were told to cooperate with the police if asked to re-dress and that there was possibility of a ticket or arrest- if either happened we were assured he'd take care of it. And he has a lawyer for this purpose. However, I didn't expect to be arrested for only being topless in my role, and many agree that I shouldn't have been. Also about 47 people did successfully perform naked without incident! As for the 2 guys, it is a different story, but I'm no expert on what the laws say regarding public nudity in art.. as Paul says, it's not always black and white? is it allowed in the name of "artistic expression"? In any case we'll see what happens!
    Thank you both for your comments, discussion is good! Let's keep it positive and educational :)

  • Mike Gatherings Agai

    Hi Paul,
    I sense hostility from you; wow. You copied and pasted one brief sentence from the entirety of my "2 cents" input and then proceeded to berated me; not nice Paul. I re-read my entire input and yes I can re-phrase. So here goes—- "In NYS it considered lewd or indecent exposure if one goes in PUBLIC totally nude and the offender can be arresttg and chargeg with either of those offenses or both". I hope that clears things up–sorry about any spelling and grammatical errors:) I found it amazing how you only took a brief sentence out the entirety of what I was saying, just to be hostile. Paul, I am not associated any movements or protests, I am a nudist–as simple as black and white. And, please, if you have knowledge of any information that will/can clarify what I have said, please do so, but leave the hostility behind. I have the right to say whatever I want to on this blog, just like you do. If the owner of the blog does not want it posted then it will not appear. My comments voiced concerns about the preparation, "act", and subsequent consequences of those involved. I don't see anyone offering those arrested any money for their upcoming legal fees and fines. I just feel the "act" should have been more official and planned better to avoid anyone being arrested. Period.

  • "please understand that being totally naked outdoors whether your acting or not, is against the law in NYS."

    is incorrect, and not just in spelling. One problem with the Internet is making pronouncements like this, and making something complicated look black and white. Unless you have knowledge in a matter, it's best not to write about it.

  • Well done, dear Felicity. This police officer broke the law by arresting you since it IS LEGAL to go topless in NYV since 1992. If you would like me to refer you to the civil rights lawyer who defended NYC private citizen, Phoenix Feeley in 2005, please write to info@gotopless.org. This email will get to me. Also Gotopless.org has a National Gotopless Day for the 4th year in a row on AUGUST 21, please join us!!!

  • Peter

    You Should now Sue the city for false arrest and violating your rights. It is Legal for you to be topless in NYC Anywhere in NYC. children around or not. You have a really good case and for the rest of us to enjoy freedom I hope you get a good lawer.

  • MIke Gatherings

    Hi Felicity, I have some mixed feelings about this. First of all, you did NOT break any statutes or laws. In fact, in the early 90s, the NYPD was sued for arresting a topless woman; I believe the women was compensated with a few hundred of thousands of dollar. Please research for the case law as I do believe it is legal for anyone (male and female) to go outside topless in NYS. Secondly, what I did notice was everyone's lack in pointing out that the totally naked males and anyone else who was totally naked outdoors as part of this "act" was breaking the law, according the NYS law. Now, before anyone jumps down my throat, please understand that being totally naked outdoors whether your acting or not, is against the law in NYS. Here are my points of interest. Was this "act" planned out correctly? Was probable or potential legal issues disclosed and discussed before the "acting" started? For example, what are the risk involved, what if someone get arrested (as what occurred)? Was anything like this disgussed at the prep meeting? Being charged with disorderly conduct is a violation and usually would not "follow" someone. However, indecent exposure is a serious offense and can effect someone's ability to hold or get a job. And, in some jurisdiction, if someone is found guilty of indecent exposure, they have to register as a sex offender. Yes, this is true; please research it for its truth worthiness. Yes, I am a nudist/naturist, and yes , I would be naked at all times and everywhere, if it was possible. But it is not, as nudist etiquette does not apply to the textile world–as we saw. I just wonder whether the ends justify the means. What is the lasting affect? Was anything "won"? One idea, maybe in the future, a permit could be obtain, to allow a demonstration or act of this kind (involving totally nudity). I believe a permit would have done alot more good for nudism than bad. Just my two cents.

  • J

    As for someone saying "I hope your arrest was well recorded because cops lie and will often stand up for each other far sooner than they will stand up for the citizens who they are hired to protect. " I think pics are all that's needed and I'm sure you have enough of all the cops there and they don't look like they are directing traffic. Like to see the arresting cops say that is not there faces? I see a police car number fully shown and nice HD pic of face on one where you standing next to car handcuffed I would guard them very well and copy those pics to paper and to a few good flash sticks so as not to risk computer crashes and anything else you have them on like SD card I bet there are on now? might be good evidence to prove you were ever arrest should they lose there records of it (convenietely) ? Also copy down an as accurate time line of events, I always say better to have more info then less and be prepared to answer all questions that may come up in court as better to have it all on paper so you can answer quick and precise as possible. Just some thought on how to handle court case I'm not a lawyer but been to my share of court cases!!

  • Doris Kelly

    What first amendment rights? You're not a corporation.

  • Sam

    I think the art on Zefrey's website ended up looking really unique, cool. I don't think you should give up, change requires work and it's nice to see NYC is progressive enough to allow toplessness and gay marriage, etc. The rest of this immature country is depending on the few and the brave….you guys.

    It is obvious that the policemen don't know the law. So I would recommend printing out the law or ordinance so that if they ever question your being top free you can show them exactly what the law says.

    "Those who can't hear the music, think the dancers mad." – Chinese Proverb

  • GWF

    I'm not sure I get the "art" aspect of the piece, but art is subjective and not for everyone to get. When I see the "artist" was "inspired for the project by his mother who lost all her retirement money in the stock market crash" it seems to be more of a protest than art. Honestly I don't care, as long as my tax dollars are not funding it. Do what you want! There was a time when that was possible in this country. I personally think you should be able to take your top off if you want. I certainly would not complain.

  • Phil Markham

    Although I expect charges have been dismissed by now, all of you (as the rest of the world) would do well to take civil action against NYC.

    Your topfreedom equality has been addressed by NY's highest court in http://www.law.cornell.edu/nyctap/I92_0160.htm and I am quite sure that the nudity in the remainder of your skit, which was political expression, has been upheld as a constitutional right of expression and protest of government.

    I hope your arrest was well recorded because cops lie and will often stand up for each other far sooner than they will stand up for the citizens who they are hired to protect.

  • kc

    Proud of u! Thanks for being willing to put yourself out there on behalf of the rest of us — on Wall St., no less!

  • Jim

    Congrats Felicity! You made the NY Times. I hope you don't mind that I linked this blog entry to the comments on Facebook If you want me to pull it, just let me know : )

  • Tristan Marcus

    I think the NYC Police Department should be sued. You violated nothing, and were well within your rights. I would advise you to contact the american civil liberties union and have the arresting officer charged. Abuse of power is sickening. Unfortunately, there are some people who slip through and are allowed to become police officers. This is a travesty. Your rights were violated, and he needs to be punished.

  • shocked

    First, I must write how disappointed I am with "The land of the free".

    Second, must write that I saw several articles regarding this issue including one with a picture of you and although this is out of context:
    YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL!!!

  • gg

    "Alas, his opinion was disregarded, and they gave us back our stuff, including the janitor broom and my makeshift leash, now bent up and distorted."

    you guys are lucky the cops didn't use the janitor broom u know where!!!!

  • Bart

    You definitely need to press charges. You were falsely arrested. If you need legal assistance, lawyer Allen Baylis of The Naturist Society might be able to help.

  • This is completely ridiculous! If you have court you should fight it. Hopefully the Gotopless Day folks will go past this street. Even if they don't, the more people who participate the more likely the cops will get the message.

  • Nathalie J-L

    wow tat is horrible! its perfectly legal to walk topless in NYC. Sorry to hear u were arrested :/ i hope nothing sticks, dumb cop

  • LESINA

    present to your Attorney and give it to the NY precinct cops that are so stupid they don't even know the laws or statutes to arrest under. You along with others should have been set-free and he was false imprisoning you for his biased opinion or arousal on being topless and art is subjective so cop loses there, too..bad cop = no donut…

    • Joe Brownrigg

      Lesina, you are absolutely correct. Another woman brought charges against the NYPD. They settled out of court for $25,000!

  • JG

    I smell a law suit…u did nothing illegal…sometimes it takes a lawsuit like this to force the police to learn the laws in this city. Totally BS…good luck, u should never have been humiliated in that way.

  • Steven

    What about prosecuting the cop for not obeying NYS law. Should he lose his job? Probably not that severe a punishment but there should be some punative public action taken against said police officer

  • Larry Ullrich

    I really feel this needs to be fought in court for all naturist will pay the loss. We cannot let it be worth while to selectively enforce laws against nudist and artists. I would have had an agreement with the artist to legally back me first. I thought NY it was legal to go topless without a cause. Politicians and law enforcers need to lighten up. The world naked bike ride is helping to get our unexcepting society on board with the rest of the world. No shame in the human form with any age!

  • NudeYorker

    It's appalling that a cop like that is working in New York City. Ignorant of laws and just plain common sense. But you handled it ell by not being combative or bellligerent (as I might have done).

  • James

    Ashame your first amendment rights of free speech was abused, which is a example of many.

  • Paul Rapoport

    I'd like to know more . . . but if you were arrested and told off and insulted and so on for being topfree, you may have a case for false arrest, abuse of power, and other things. Unfortunately, you all need attorneys unless the charges don't materialize or are dropped immediately. Meanwhile, it seems you took good notes. If you can add times, places, police badge numbers, and further details to them, that will help.

    The artwork, which I read about, seems quite worthy. (I'm aware of the recent history of public performance art, which I've spoken and written about.)

  • Ironman92

    That's actually really funny. What is wrong with people.