Manhattan Topless Book Club on Brooklyn Woman's Arrest: Police Officer Was "Ignorant of the Law," "Abusive"

Topless_book_club_member-OCTPFAS.jpg
Image via OCTPFAS official blog
Book club members enjoy reading (and not being arrested) in Central Park
Last week, we told you about Jessica Krigsman, a Brooklyn woman who's suing the city, alleging that she was wrongfully arrested last summer for sitting topless in a Gravesend park.

According to the suit, Krigsman was sitting on a bench when two police officers approached and told her to get dressed; when she declined, the suit alleges, Officer Colleen Canavan forced her shirt on her. Krigsman was cuffed, taken to the precinct, and, ultimately, charged with "obstruction of a sitting area," a charge that was later dropped.

Although going shirtless in New York is, for the nth time, totally, totally legal, Krigsman's lawsuit generated the usually flurry of commentary about whether it's right and appropriate and what about the children.

"Skank," offered one thoughtful commenter beneath a New York Post story.

"Instead of arresting her, the cops should have supported her by banging the living daylights out of her," another upstanding citizen remarked.

The Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society takes a different view. In the warm months, the group meets regularly in Manhattan public spaces to both read fine literature and offer a bracing visual reminder of the legality of public plein air shirtlessness in the city.

Group members use pseudonyms to protect their privacy; via e-mail, a spokesowman who goes by "Althea Andrews" denounced Krigsman's arrest but emphasized they'd never had a similarly negative encounter with the cops.

"We have never, in three summers of meeting topless outdoors all over New York City dozens of times, had a negative interaction with law enforcement," Andrews writes. "Not once." The closest they've come, she adds, was in Central Park their first summer, when a cop approached and asked them to put their shirts on. When they informed her the practice was legal, Andrews says, "she was dubious, but radioed back to headquarters, got confirmation that we were right, and told us to have a nice day and walked off."

Andrews has a few theories as to why Krigsman had a different experience.

Colleen_Canavan.jpg
Image via.
NYPD Officer Colleen Canavan
"Clearly she had the misfortune to encounter a police officer who was not only ignorant of the law but abusive as well," she writes. "She also was doing it by herself--which should be every woman's right, just as it is every man's, but is clearly riskier than doing it in a group like ours. A lone wrongheaded policeman might harass a woman sunbathing by herself--good luck harassing a dozen of us doing it together. Finally, we generally meet in Manhattan; she was sunning in a distant part of Brooklyn. The law is the law all over the city, but some neighborhoods know it better than others."

Krigsman, who's suing for for civil rights violations, malicious prosecution, assault, and battery, is seeking unspecified damages. Topless Book Club members tend to curtail their outdoor meetings during the winter but are planning a snowball fight at high noon during the first good snow of the season.

See also:
- A Woman Sues New York City After She Was Arrested for Going Topless in a Brooklyn Park
- Yes, Ladies, You Can Walk Around the City Topless


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78 comments
jamieallen70
jamieallen70

..sexy beautifully casual may be a perfect,fit just because spring has now arrive doesn't mean you have to look very modern.

tronyc
tronyc

wow, this is stupid. Playing devil's advocate here, but how can anyone state that a man's bare chest is any less sexual than a woman's? You can not convince me otherwise. In the spirit of equality, "shirtlessness" is the same regardless of gender. Judging from comments here, most people would agree that there's no difference. My point is that men should have to keep their chests covered as well. While I wouldn't necessarily be offended to see anyone's bare chest, I just don't want to, nor do I think it is appropriate. Why are shirts required in supermarkets and other establishments?

egiadub
egiadub

The comments saying that men should be able to go around fully nude are absolutely hysterical.

We're talking about women being able to go topless, something men have been able to do for decades. Full public nudity isn't a part of the discussion here... those are two different arguments. As of right now neither gender is allowed to be publicly nude (unless at certain beaches, in the US that is). We're discussing toplessness.

winters.first.rain
winters.first.rain

This is a very important issue.

Much more important than war, health, environmental destruction.

We must be outraged!

Let us recruit every child burn victim in every hospital in the world, let us recruit every caged bear and chicken, let us recruit anyone who may be starving in Africa: we must unite! We must protest for this woman's right to show her breasts! 

There is nothing more important or pressing in these times. I, for one, commend her for having the courage to stand up for something truly meaningful.

Stevart
Stevart

Tits McGoogans is back and better than ever. 

frank124c
frank124c topcommenter

In some cities in California and in Europe it is perfectly legal to walk around entirely nude. If people want to be nude or bare chested it is their business and no one else's.  

Atomsk1
Atomsk1

If getting your tits out empowers women then surely Larry Flynt and Hugh Hefner have done more for Feminism than Gloria Steinem, Susan B. Anthony, Andrea Dworkin, and Lena Dunham combined.

Atomsk1
Atomsk1

These "Feminists" think public nudity is fine and dandy, right up until the first MAN tries to express his right to go nude in public as well, then they immediately call the police and get him thrown in prison and put on a sex offender list for life

gyansorova
gyansorova

And I am fully behind these ladies.

richard.m.spalding.j
richard.m.spalding.j

the problem with this club and others like it is that it in advertantly exposes the women to the eyes of those who are less than honorable (both men and women) and while it may be wrong for a person to assult a woman just because she's topless, doesnt mean that it wont happen.

Another issue that this raises is that while the action itself is legal what about the action in front of or near a child? An example of this would be that it is legal for 2 consenting adults to engage in an intimate physical activity (sex) but it is not legal to do so in front of a child. 

drux3533
drux3533

I don't see why everyone gets so upset about boobs.  Women, you have them you shouldn't be so freaked out by them.  Men, most of us have been trying to catch a glance of them since we were 10, why can't we all just get along?  Why do we pretend like these arbitrary rules about "women covering up" are anything but an archaic method of controlling women?  You can quote scripture all you want, but all it does is prove my point.  As Americans, I bet most of you who are offended by boobs would probably have some hang-ups with Islam also.  That religion forces their women to cover everything but their faces, and in many cases everything but their eyes, because even an ankle, or wrist can be too "provocative" or "sexually enticing" for the men to handle, so they force the women to cover up.  It is the same ideology, just to an extreme - weak men can not control themselves, so blame the women.  Some of you argue that women should cover up because they will be harassed or hurt by pervy men - fair enough, but why do we chastise the women for that and not the men who can't control themselves?  If a man can't control himself when he sees a pair of breasts, that is on him and we should not condone THAT behavior.  Why blame the victim in this case, and shackle the woman with a bra, shirt, or another cover-up?   Why don't we as a society shame the men for their inability to control their lust, or impulses - it is the same as the Islamic men with legs, or hair - it is nonsense.  And don't get me wrong, I love boobs, they're nice to look at, fun to play with, and they do get me sexually aroused, but I don't lose my shit when I see them.  I get a nice happy feeling inside, and there is nothing wrong with that - but biologically they have no sexual function really.  They are life giving - All they do is provide milk to a nursing child.  They have no other function during sex, or actual conception -simply they're there to provide food for the growing infant, and perhaps cause some lower back pain for you ladies.  But why do we pretend that they are some how a sexual beacon and should be suppressed at all costs - its ridiculous  I think all parks should allow toplessness to those who want to participate, all parks, pools, beaches - everywhere!  I am with you ladies, down with tan lines!  When is the next book club meeting, I'll bring cookies!  

Project1174
Project1174

I'm going to start a movement so men can walk around without pants.

Nothing like an unfurnished basement for pure comfort!

Elizabeth Blumberg
Elizabeth Blumberg

I think if the idea of using the Internet to check the veracity of claims strangers make on the Internet (ie you claiming to live in NYC when your profile says you're in SF) is 'creepy' or weird to you , I have a little girl who's going to die of cancer unless the post of her picture gets 1,000,000 likes by Friday to show you.

Elizabeth Blumberg
Elizabeth Blumberg

Jen, at no point does Althea claim to BE a topless reader, in fact she is quite specific about her preference for some support in that area.

Jennifer Convery
Jennifer Convery

oh dear...i forgot your problem discerning sarcasm. i joke when i suggest you try your theory out in the south bronx or bed-sty. the last thing i want is you to meet the harsh realities of this world because of a joke i made. best to stay in whatever bubble you live in where you can muse on the radical ways your toplessness is changing the world. you're safe there (sarcasm alert!!)

Jennifer Convery
Jennifer Convery

oh...now i see why you can't take any disagreement on your dumbass naive cause. you seem so uptight in your defense of your lost cause. why not go for a relaxing topless stroll thru, say bed-stuy or the south bronx since your so sure you're safe with your boobs hanging out in our lovely city... no you say?....i thought not. well clearly you lack the convictions of you beliefs-how thoroughly disappointing!

Jennifer Convery
Jennifer Convery

more? really? you are too much fun althea, too much fun.

Althea Ann
Althea Ann

I'm sorry that your life is so full of fear. (As it clearly is... if you think I'm "raging," I'm imagining that you must just walk the streets imagining that everyone around you is seething with hatred, randomly plotting violence...) I'm glad that other people (like the ladies of the book club) have the joie de vivre that you lack. Rage on... And to all the random strangers: NYC is one of the safest large cities in the nation. I love to be in a place where I am legally free to express myself, and where I can walk without fear. Please note that the participants of the topless book club are still happily unharmed... enjoying their freedom. Does crime sometimes happen? Sure, like anywhere. What you're wearing is not a factor. We don't need any misguided Taliban-esque crapola about trying to enforce standards of 'modesty.'

Jennifer Convery
Jennifer Convery

althea i would like to personally thank you for the comic relief. i can't believe you still can make me laugh so hard after 2 days of your raging about my crazy notion that it's not such a good idea & it's dangerous to promote this shit to girls because they will get hurt in nyc. Let's go back a bit to my original comment that sent you over the proverbial edge, shall we? "See the guys neanderthal comment above mine? That is the only response they get for being topless. This city is NOT safe for women with clothes on let alone 1/2 naked. They're not doing any favors for women trying to not get harassed in the streets." this was clearly a step to far for you, & you decided you wanted to go at it w/me. fine, sure, whatever. in your many posts to me, you claim you walk around nyc topless (i'm still a bit doubtful, but, hey, sure, why not- it's fb, people say all kinds a crap when they're trying to prove a point.) & with that badge of honor, something i guess i'm supposed to be impressed with, you then tried to take me to task for my opinion cause i guess you can't deal w/any ideas but your own (kinda sad). Then you start looking up where i live, (to see if i have any legitimate right to talk at all, i guess.) sure that you had me now, i guess, you proceed to inform me that from your research into my whereabouts, i don't live in nyc, & (i guess) should shut the fuk up. i told you that was super creepy, but whatever, then i joked why not friend me if you want my details. you, sadly, lacking any knowledge or sense of sarcasm (i fear for you topless & unable to tell a joke in nyc, a place you surely did not grow up in) actually write that i want to be your buddy 4 real & isn't that super wierd. i wish you could've heard the laughter (my friends we're over & i couldn't help but share-sorry about that.) all i can say to you is wow...please be careful out there, it's a dangerous world for topless girls who can't discern sarcasm & might i recommend some mel brooks films to learn a bit about the fine art of sarcasm. i think it will help you avoid a lot of stunned looks as the jokes fly over your head. and maybe also, learn to just deal with the reality that not everyone is going to agree w/you in this life-esp. on fb posts, & that's okay althea, it's okay.

Elizabeth Blumberg
Elizabeth Blumberg

I love how Jen starts the conversation by challenging Althea's New York knowledge and the veracity of her support of topless book reading and then gets grumpy when she gets an argument back. By stating her position and not agreeing with her. In Jen's world Althea isn't just arguing with Jen, she's negating all the opinions of all the Good People who don't agree with her. Jen is haha.

Althea Ann
Althea Ann

Hmm - I don't think I've ever previously had someone say I 'creep them out' and then ask to 'friend me' in one paragraph. Personally; I don't think it's odd to check public geographic information if someone is claiming expertise based on said geographic location. I'm generally a friendly person - just accepted a friend request from the topless book readers, and that's cool, so if you want to request; I'll accept. I don't think my profile is all that exciting to people who don't actually know me (and/or aren't interested in reading a lot of book reviews...) For the record, I never implied that you (or any random stranger) is not a 'good' person - but I strongly believe that we as a society need to get over the idea that women's bodies are some sort of 'provocation' and that if violence is committed against an 'immodest' woman that it is somehow her fault.

Lamdba
Lamdba

Dress equality might not seem very important, but I think it has a psychological impact that's easy to underestimate. I think that the simple fact that more women wear pants has done a lot to change the way society views women.

Bob Butts
Bob Butts

somethings are better left covered not flaunted

ToplessPulp
ToplessPulp

Thank you, Althea, for defending our right to do the same thing in New York's parks and streets that men can do. It might not be a cause on par with nuclear disarmament or ending world hunger, but discrimination and bias are important to end as well, and the way you change people's attitudes and behavior is one small step at a time. We would welcome you gladly at any of our events (who cares what age you are?), and we would welcome you, too, Jen if you're capable of setting aside your preconceived notions for an afternoon and having a new experience that might challenge and surprise you. Good people CAN disagree, and maybe you and we always will, but the vehemence of your comments is extraordinary and I think you'd find it eye-opening to see how tranquil and mild and genuinely relaxing and fun our experience is. All of us have gotten catcalled and leered at, etc., when walking down the street fully dressed -- we consistently experience LESS bad behavior of that sort when we're out together in a group, enjoying an afternoon bare-breasted in the park.

Jennifer Convery
Jennifer Convery

umm...a lil creeped that you're doing reconaissance on me althea. i guess you really don't get the idea that good people can have very different opinions. it's kinda what fb is designed for. but just so you know,i was born in nyc & i live in nyc...feel free to fb friend me-this has been fun.

Jennifer Convery
Jennifer Convery

haha..elizabeth is SUCH a riot hahahaha....what are you, 12?

pete1589
pete1589

5:27. You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery.

5:28. But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.

5:29. And if thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. For it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than thy whole body be cast into hell.

Scandalize thee... That is, if it be a stumblingblock, or occasion of sin to thee. By which we are taught to fly the immediate occasions of sin, though they be as dear to us, or as necessary as a hand or an eye.

5:30. And if thy right hand scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body go into hell.

lisaa5
lisaa5

@tronyc establishments can make rules about attire. E.g., no shirt, no shoes, no service. However, those rules have to apply equally to both genders or it amounts to sex discrimination. This specific rule addressed in the article (decided by court decision) makes it such that a woman going topless does not equate to indecent exposure. It decriminalizes the state of being topless for women. 

pashupa
pashupa

@egiadub yes there would be health issues if everyone's genitals were all over the subway seats. it is a sign of how sexualized women's breasts are in our culture that people don't understand the difference. spend a week at burning man and y'all will see so many breasts you won't get your man panties in a bunch over this.

pashupa
pashupa

@winters.first.rain evolution of social & cultural consciousness does not need to happen starting at the worst atrocity and working its way up, it can happen on many levels all at once, and in fact does. i am an advocate for animal rights, environmental conservation, and women's right to be topless if they choose. anything that causes so much emotional response definitely needs to be looked at rationally rather than dogmatically suppressed. the question should always be, does this activity cause harm? i think the main harm of women being topless in public is that is may desexualize the breast. probably not though... if i were a woman i would be taking my favorite book to the park to join them.

mommadillo
mommadillo

@Atomsk1 Then you shouldn't have any problem pointing out a case or two where a man was arrested for going shirtless, right?

Well?

ToplessPulp
ToplessPulp

@richard.m.spalding.j Richard, you're trying to sound reasonable, but you don't know what you're talking about.

We've met dozens of times all over the city, in groups ranging from 2 to 20 people, always topless, and we have never been assaulted or had any dangerous experience of any sort.
And yes, it is absolutely legal for a woman to go topless in public in New York whether or not a child is around, exactly the same as it is legal for a man to go topless in public regardless of whether a child is around, and for the exact same reason.  There is nothing obscene or shameful about a man's bare chest, and there is nothing obscene or shameful about a woman's bare chest.  There are often children around when we are meeting. Sometimes their parents bring them by to meet us. It's all very pleasant, and completely legal.

Atomsk1
Atomsk1

"Why do we pretend like these arbitrary rules about "women covering up" are anything but an archaic method of controlling women?"

Then the arbitrary rules about men covering up their penises (a body part no less natural and no more shameful than a woman's breasts) are nothing but an archaic method of controlling women as well.

Atomsk1
Atomsk1

@drux3533 You dont know anything about human evolution. Human women are the only mammals whose breasts maintain a constant state of engorgement, even when not pregnant or nursing, and this is entirely due to their function as a mate attractor and sexual object.

Atomsk1
Atomsk1

@Jen Convery Youll have to understand, these Feminists have been brainwashed by CIA-propaganda (Gloria Steinem was literally on the CIA payroll during the Cultural Cold War, look it up) in the guise of liberalism that they cant tell which way is up.

Feminism, like "anti-terrorism", can not exist or make money if their enemies and boogeymen do not exist, and if the fears of them lessen in society. Which is why all "anti-terrorism" campaigns are actually designed to increase terrorist hostility and recruitment levels as much as possible, and Feminism is designed to make women as vulnerable to rape as possible, telling them to go naked in dangerous neighborhoods, and that its perfectly reasonable to get blackout drunk at frat parties everyone already knows are full of rapists.

mjc_1995
mjc_1995

I'm guessing you always wear a shirt in public.

Atomsk1
Atomsk1

@ToplessPulp A man's chest is not sexual. Which is why grabbing one without permission is not considered sexual assault, but grabbing a woman's chest is.

These women are nothing but exhibitionist perverts, who get a sexual thrill from children seeing their nudity, no different than a trenchcoat wearing man who flashes his penis to people on the street.

mjc_1995
mjc_1995

@Atomsk1 Genitals are a sexual body part. They are not shameful but it is reasonable to to have them covered in public, just like a vulva for sanitary and privacy reasons. Breasts and pectoral muscles are not sexual organs regardless of what you think.

avman88
avman88

@Atomsk1 Why is it the more you type, the stupider you sound?

mjc_1995
mjc_1995

@Atomsk1 @drux3533 Breasts are a secondary sex characteristic in the same way that male body hair is. That does not mean it is covered as if it is genitals.

Project1174
Project1174

I would never suggest anything less!

Project1174
Project1174

I would never even suggest otherwise!

Atomsk1
Atomsk1

@ToplessPulp @gyansorova You can make it illegal for men to bare their chests in public just as soon as you make it sexual assault to touch a man's chest without his consent.

ToplessPulp
ToplessPulp

@gyansorova @ToplessPulp How could that possibly be fair or legally defensible? Unless you think men over 35 shouldn't be allowed to remove their shirts in public either?

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