Bring Back Streaking!

John by J0NU from Flickr (Public Domain)

John by J0NU from Flickr (Public Domain)

Did you see the clip of the streaker on American Ninja Warrior?

He was pretty impressive until he was stopped by security! I was bummed to learn that this was a stunt and not a true streaker. This video made me wonder – whatever happened to streaking? I’m sure some people think it’s offensive, but I think it’s hilarious. Now that everyone has a smart phone in their purse or pocket, I suppose fewer people are inclined to strip down and run. But it still happens on occasion – i.e., Portland’s Naked Bike Ride, Bay to Breakers, etc.

In Arizona, streaking is illegal under the indecent exposure law. It is a felony if you expose yourself to a child who is under 15 years old, and you have to register as a sex offender if you commit this felony  two or more times.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am against the sexual abuse or sexual assault of any person, and I think it makes sense to differentiate between people who expose themselves to commit a sex crime (including flashing) and people who have other motives. When I think of “flashers,” I think of people who do what these two guys are insinuating:

In my mind, a traditional streaker has no sexual motive, but rather is violating a social norm. I have heard of other states where a public nudity is permitted as long as you are not sexually aroused, masturbating, or the like. Streaking should fall into this latter category.

Do I think the rules or going to change anytime soon? No. Arizona is a conservative state in general, and our legislature has more important issues to tackle than legalizing streaking. But it would be awesome if they did. Of course, if you are going to streak, be mindful of the likelihood that you will be videotaped or photographed while you’re doing it, and you may be at risk of being arrested for additional crimes such as trespassing and disorderly conduct.

If you want to know more about pulling off shenanigans like this legally, please check out my book Flash Mob Law, or you can contact me or connect with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, or LinkedIn.

Proposed AZ Law Would Outlaw Wearing a Disguise While Committing a Crime

Improv AZ - Flash Mob Fiction by Sheila Dee (used with permission)

Improv AZ – Flash Mob Fiction by Sheila Dee (used with permission)

The Arizona legislature is considering a law that would make it a crime to conceal your identity while breaking the law or to avoid being arrested or punished. Proposed by State Representatives Bob Thorpe, Brenda Barton, and David Livingston, HB 2143, would add the following t the Arizona criminal code:

A. IT IS UNLAWFUL FOR A PERSON TO WEAR A MASK, FALSE WHISKERS OR OTHER PERSONAL DISGUISE, WHETHER PARTIAL OR COMPLETE, FOR THE PURPOSE OF:
1. EVADING OR ESCAPING DISCOVERY, RECOGNITION OR IDENTIFICATION IN THE COMMISSION OF ANY PUBLIC OFFENSE.
2. CONCEALMENT, FLIGHT OR ESCAPE, WHEN CHARGED WITH, ARRESTED FOR OR CONVICTED OF ANY PUBLIC OFFENSE.
B. A VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION IS A CLASS 1 MISDEMEANOR.

Punishment for a Class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona is up to 6 months in jail and up to a $2,500 fine.

Speed Camera Snaps Man in a Monkey Mask (Image from CBS 5 News)

Speed Camera Snaps Man in a Monkey Mask (Image from CBS 5 News)

The purpose of this bill appears to be to go after guys like Dave VonTesmar. Dave gained notoriety in 2009 because people were driving his car and speeding past the speed cameras while wearing a monkey mask. He reportedly received close to 40 tickets, and at least half of them were thrown out because the prosecution couldn’t prove that he was the person in the picture, and therefore the driver when the offenses occurred. To date, he’s refused to pay the other tickets.

As a flash mob organizer and participant, this proposed law makes me a little nervous. If it passes, I hope law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office make a distinction between people who use a disguise in order to commit a crime or evade law enforcement and people who commit crimes while wearing costumes. It’s an issue of intent. It’s clearly wrong to wear a Nixon mask while robbing a bank to avoid being identified. But if you’re doing a flash mob or a prank that involves wearing a costume, or you’re involved in cosplay and you happen to commit a crime while you’re in costume, you shouldn’t be punished for concealing your identity, just the other crime you committed.

Let’s say somebody organized a Zombie Die-In and they did it in the street without permission, the participants could be arrested for blocking a thoroughfare. They shouldn’t be charged with concealing their identity just because they were in costume at the time. By the way, the organizers could also be facing solicitation and conspiracy if they did a stunt like this. If you’re curious about the legalities of flash mobs and pranks watch this video.

I’m curious to see if this law will be passed and what the implications will be if it does. If someone is planning on committing a crime while trying to conceal their identity, this law won’t stop them from putting on a mask or even just a hood and sunglasses to avoid being identified. It will simply give law enforcement another charge to throw at them when they get caught.

If you want to know more about flash mob law, I wrote an entire book about it. You can also connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or you can send me an email.

Response to Go Topless Day 2014 in Phoenix

2013 Topless Freedom Day by rahmmason from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

2013 Topless Freedom Day by rahmmason from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I’m a big advocate for equal rights – whether we’re talking about gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. I firmly believe that the law should apply equally to everyone and I’m grateful that the U.S. Supreme Court supported that ideal when they decided that “separate is not equal” in 1896.

Last weekend, I participated in the third annual Go Topless Day Protest in Phoenix. The purpose of Go Topless Day is to bring awareness to the fact that there in gender inequality under the decency law in my places (Phoenix included). Since men are allowed to be shirtless in public and women are not, everyone covered their areolas at this protest because women are required to. If we want to say that men and women are equal then everyone should be able to be shirtless or everyone should have to cover up.

About three dozen people showed up for the event in Phoenix, as did the press. I was interviewed by Fox 10 – who tried to be creative by doing a Garden of Eden thing – which made me look more naked than I really was. We gathered at Steele Indian School Park and marched up and down Central Avenue where we were met with lots of honks, cheers, and people taking photos. Fox posted a link to their footage on Facebook, and the last time I checked, it had over 1,100 likes and over 600 comments.

 

This is an issue about equality, not sexuality. How can we tell women and girls that they are equal to their male counterparts and then treat them differently under the law? I reached out to my elected representatives recently about this issue and was disappointed when none of them responded. They’re all up for re-election this November and I’ll keep that in mind when I’m filling out my ballot.

By requiring women to cover up, I think it promotes the objectification of women and the notion that women should be ashamed of their bodies. I shared some of those thoughts earlier this year on my personal blog.

I wanted to share some of the reactions to Fox 10 Phoenix’s coverage of the event as well as my thoughts. (I corrected the grammar and spelling mistakes.)

Ok, walk around topless. But don’t get mad when I look at them.
Looking is fine – especially if you can be discreet about it. Ogling and leering is not.

Hey I don’t want to see either, man or woman, keep the shirts on.
That’s fine. All I want is for the law to be the same for men and women.

I don’t need my son seeing women walk around topless.
I’m sure there are lots of things you don’t want you kids to see that are legal.

I’m a woman and would rather not go topless.
Ok. When women were given the right to vote, we didn’t force you to do it. We just gave you the option. There are lots of things that I can legally do but I choose not to because I don’t like it – eat sushi, wear flip flops, and listen to heavy metal music are on my list – but if you want to enjoy them, go right ahead. Plenty of guys choose to keep their shirts on and so can you if the law is changed.

I will go along as long as there is an age and weight limit to it.
Will you support age and weight limits for men too?

Those women who want to walk around topless are going to attract perverts and sex offenders. They need to keep their shirts on for their own safety.
They are asking to get raped and or assaulted.
You’re kidding, right? No one deserves to be sexually assaulted regardless of what they’re wearing.

A woman’s breast is still considered to be an object of sexuality and till that changes – things will never be equal.
This is a great point and that as a society we need to examine how objectified women are.  Don’t look at anyone as if they only exist for your visual or physical enjoyment. They are a person, not a piece of meat.

While they are at it, have them sign up for the draft. Silly women, they don’t realize we have it so good.
I’d support making everyone sign up for the draft at 18 years old. If I want gender equality, I can’t pick and choose which laws change.

To those who claimed that the people who participated in this event are pot heads, hoes, or have no morals, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Special thanks to Fox 10 Phoenix, Downtown Devil, and the Phoenix New Times for covering this event and thank you to the Phoenix Police Department who kept us safe during the protest.

If you want to follow this issue in Arizona, check out Topless AZ on Facebook. You can also chat with me about it by commenting below, connecting with me on TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle+YouTube, or send me an email. If you want more information about Carter Law Firm, please visit the homepage.

The Legalities of Feeding Expired Parking Meters in Phoenix – According to the Police

Parking Meter by Lauri Väin from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Parking Meter by Lauri Väin from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Starting on August 1st, Phoenix is changing to variable prices at its parking meters. Depending on when and where you park, the rate could range from $0.50 to $4.00/hour. This is a big change from the $1.50/hour rate that used to be at every meter. The other big change is enforcement times will be every day from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. – no more free nights and weekends.

The Phoenix City Council said they’re making this change in part because of the city’s $37.7 million deficit and that these new rates will bring in $800,000 for the city. I wonder how much of this expected amount is based on people paying to park versus getting tickets for expired meters.

Some people are upset by the increase – like students at the ASU downtown campus and people who work downtown. I’ve seen people on social media say that the increase will decrease the likelihood of them coming downtown, or if they do, that they’ll take the light rail ($4 for an all-day pass is probably cheaper than paying $4/hour to park). On the other hand, the increase has given me a chance to a flash mob I’ve been thinking of for years.

My partners-in-crime and I all have day jobs so our shenanigans are mostly restricted to the weekend. I had an idea years ago about being parking meter fairies – dressing up in tutus, wings, and the like and feeding people’s expired meters. Now that people will have to pay to park on the weekends, we’ll finally have a chance to pull this off if we want.

I contacted the City of Phoenix Police Department and asked them about the legalities of feeding other people’s expired parking meters and here’s what they said:

“I am not aware of any City ordinance that precludes you from putting money into someone else parking meter here in Phoenix. I know there are jurisdictions that prohibit that activity. The only concern I have is if a person were to put money in a meter after a vehicle was cited or somehow interfered with a parking enforcement officer that could be a violation of the law.”

I interpret this to mean that it’s OK to feed an expired meter (while wearing a tutu and glitter) as long as the vehicle doesn’t already have a ticket on it. (I know it’s illegal to do this in other cities, so do your research before you try to pull off a similar stunt.)

Flash Mob Law bookBesides my flash mob idea, I wonder if downtown businesses will feed their patrons’ parking meters in front of their establishments or if someone will create a sponsored crew of meter feeders like the Surfers Paradise Meter Maids in Australia.

As always, if you want to do a flash mob, do you research in advance to ensure that you don’t set yourself up to get sued or arrested because of your event. If you need a resource, check out my book Flash Mob Law or contact me on TwitterFacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me. You can also subscribe to the Carter Law Firm monthly newsletter.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Is That Legal – Flash Weddings

Photo by Maggie Winters for Pop! Wed Co., used with permission

Photo by Maggie Winters for Pop! Wed Co., used with permission

I saw an article on NPR the other day about a company that is helping couples elope in creative ways – with flash weddings. Pop! Wed Co. is an all-in-one elopement concierge in Washington, D.C., run by photographer Maggie Winters and secular humanist officiant Steven Gaudaen. The two select the location, obtain the marriage license, take the photographs, and perform the ceremony. They show that a fast wedding doesn’t have to be plain.

According to the article, they never get permission or a permit for any of the locations and they have been asked to leave a few venues. Apparently Gaudaen finished the ceremony for one couple while they were being escorted out of the Natural History Museum so they could still claim the location on the marriage certificate.

I’ve had a few people over the years approach me because they wanted to have a flash mob wedding and they wanted to know if it was legal. Of course the answer is always, “It depends.”

For years I’ve said I’m going to elope on a street corner on a Tuesday. If weddings weren’t also a reunion of family and friends, I would definitely elope because all the decision that go into planning a wedding will make me crazy. If you want to have your wedding on public property – like a park, or a street corner, or the beach – you can probably get away doing a ceremony in a few minutes as long as you’re not interfering with other’s enjoyment or use of the space. If you turn it into a production where you have a full set up and take over the area, that’s when you draw attention, and that’s a situation where municipalities require you to get some type of event permit.

If you want to have you flash wedding on private property – like a church, art gallery, or museum – you probably have to move quickly to avoid getting caught. These places are open to the public so you’re welcome to walk in, but if you don’t leave when requested, you could be trespassing. If your flash wedding causes a big commotion, police might try to give you a citation for something like disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct.

I think flash weddings are pretty innocuous as long as they’re performed with the right spirit. These are the biggest potential risks I see.

  • If the venue normally charges a fee to hold a wedding at their location and they find out that you had a flash wedding without their permission, they could send the couple or the organizers a bill . . . but then they’d be the jerks who sent a bill for a five-minute wedding ceremony that didn’t interfere with their space.
  • If the organizers have previously been kicked out of a place for doing a flash wedding there and they try to pull off another one at the same venue, they might be at risk for trespassing because they know they were using the space for an unauthorized purpose.

If you’re looking for a resource about the legalities of flash mobs, I wrote an entire book about it called Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans. In it, I share the process I go through as a flash mob organizer to help ensure that no one’s going to get sued or arrested during or after an event.

If you want to chat about flash mobs or other guerilla events, feel free to connect with me on TwitterFacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me. You can also subscribe to the Carter Law Firm monthly newsletter.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

High School Senior Pranks and the Law

Punking Neal's Office: The glow of the prankster god by Jake Sutton from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Punking Neal’s Office: The glow of the prankster god by Jake Sutton from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

This is the time of year that high school seniors are scheming about their senior prank instead of studying for finals.  If you’re going to do a senior prank, think about all the things that might go wrong (especially if people show up drunk or high or get carried away) or that you might be accused of doing wrong and try to mitigate those types of problems in advance.

Just being on the school property after hours might be enough to get you arrested for trespassing and the charges could be worse if you break into the school.  Your state or city may also have a catch-all law like malicious mischief or disturbing the peace. Your city might have a curfew law so you want to be careful if anyone participating is under 18. On the flip side, if you’re 18 and you get arrested, you will be charged as an adult and your name will likely appear in your local newspaper.

Regardless of your age, getting arrest curing your senior prank could result in you incurring legal fees and fines, being banned from graduation activities, having your college acceptance rescinded, and being fired from your job if you’re at-will employee.

If you’re going to do a senior prank, do your homework in advance. Look around your school for security cameras, motion sensors, and security guards. And talk with your fellow conspirators in advance about your plans, what you need to do to stay out of trouble, and not sharing pictures and videos of your shenanigans if you take any at all (which I don’t recommend).

Senior pranks should be creative and fun for everyone – including the school administration. I did some research and these are some of the pranks that made me smile: forking the lawn, filling the hallway with cups of water, putting a car on the roof or around the flag pole, making interesting pictures/patterns on the walls with post-it notes, filling a prominent room with balloons, messing with people’s head with matching outfits or re-enacting scenes from a movie or video game, hiding small battery-operated alarm clocks all over campus – each set to go off at a different time, putting googly eyes and mustaches on inanimate objects, constructing a swing set somewhere, covering the lawn with gnomes or plastic flamingos, or filling the pool with rubber ducks.

So here’s my list of senior prank dos and don’ts as a prankster and a lawyer:

  • Be innocuous
  • Be funny – You’re less likely to get in trouble if the alleged victims are laughing
  • Be witty
  • Be creative – What if you filled the principals’ office with canned goods and at the end of the day, it all went to a food bank
  • Be easy enough to clean up
  • Be safe – Don’t create a hazard with oil, bouncy balls in the hallways
  • Be temporary – Don’t graffiti the school
  • Be clean – Don’t spill trash cans or spray silly string everywhere
  • Don’t steal anything – This includes stealing keys to get into the school
  • Don’t destroy, damage, or vandalize anything
  • Don’t be gross – Don’t do want those kids in New Jersey did and pee on the floor.

For full disclosure, I participated in my class’ senior prank when I was in high school. We had to be super cheesy and harmless because the previous two years’ classes were destructive and people got arrested. I was 17 at the time (and breaking curfew) and my parents explicitly told me not to call home until after breakfast if I got arrested. We had fun and nothing bad happened.

If you have any questions about the legalities of flash mobs or pranks, feel free to contact me. If you want a resource about the legal dos and don’ts about these topics, please check out my book, Flash Mob Law.

You can also connect with me on TwitterGoogle+FacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, and you can subscribe to the Carter Law Firm monthly newsletter.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Is That Legal: The Mannequin Mob

Mannequin Mob Group Photo by Arin Sang-urai, used with permission

Mannequin Mob Group Photo by Arin Sang-urai, used with permission

Recently Improv Everywhere organized a group of 40 agents who donned white MorphsuitsTM to do a prank where they posed as mannequins in the Gap. They all wore Gap-style clothing over their Morphsuits and walked in the store with their masks off. At the designated time the group simultaneously put on their masks and froze in place like the mannequins in the store which are also all white.

Some of the employees seemed to think it was funny but one concerned employee called 911. The police showed up and put many of the performers in handcuffs. Charlie Todd, the founder of Improv Everywhere, explained the situation and everyone was released without incident.  It was pretty funny overall – even the police were laughing by the end.

Let’s look at the legal questions behind this prank.

Is It Legal to Enter a Store to do a Prank?
That’s an interesting question. Stores are open to the public, even for people who are just browsing and have no intention of buying anything.  So it’s legal to enter a store during business hours for reasons other than making a purchase. If you’re not interfering with the store’s operations or others’ ability to shop, you are less likely to have any problems.

This is not the first prank that involved messing with store employees. Improv AZ definitely raised some eyebrows when we did the Apple Store Flash Mob and Improv Everywhere had to deal with the police during their Best Buy Prank.

Did the Group Commit Trespassing?
Probably not. You’re usually not trespassing in a store where the public is welcome to be until you refuse to obey a request that you leave.  From what I heard, the group was told to leave the store immediately and peacefully if requested to do so, but the employee called 911 instead.

Charlie Todd in Handcuffs by Arin Sang-urai, used with permission

Charlie Todd in Handcuffs by Arin Sang-urai, used with permission

Did the Gap Employee Overreact by Calling 911?
I think so. A more reasonable reaction would have been to use the store’s PA system to announce that everyone who was dressed up like a mannequin needed to leave the store and then call the police if they didn’t comply.

Is There a Problem with Wearing a Mask in a Store?
Possibly. Most businesses don’t have a sign that says “No Masks,” but they are often not allowed. Apparently robbers wear them. Improv AZ ran into a problem with this rule when they tried to walk through a mall (just walking, not doing anything wrong) during the first Epic Super Hero Battle. The group was not allowed to proceed until everyone removed anything that was covering their faces.

Is There a Problem with Filming or Taking Photos in a Store?
Perhaps. Each store sets its own rules about whether photography or filming is permitted. If you’re doing a prank in a mall, the entire mall may have a rule against shooting photos or videos so do your homework in advance. Be sure to check out Arin Sang-urai’s photos from this prank to see images of the hidden cameras Improv Everywhere used.

Could the Group have been Arrested for Disturbing the Peace?
Probably not. The group didn’t excessively disrupt the store. I would say the employee did when they called 911. There didn’t appear to be any problems while the police were sorting out what was going on and most people, if not everyone, was smiling by the end.

Could the Group be Banned from the Gap?
Sure. The store has the right to refuse service to anyone. The have the prerogative to ban problematic patrons. This banning would likely only apply to that particular store, not every Gap, and probably it wouldn’t preclude them from shopping at the Gap online. If anyone was banned from the store, and they entered the premises after the banning began, then they would be trespassing. Some of the members of Improv AZ ran into this problem when we were banned from a mall for three months following the Coroner Prank 2.

Please check out Arin Sang-urai’s photos from The Mannequin Mob. They’re outstanding.

If you have any questions about the legalities of flash mobs, pranks, or any type of guerilla marketing, feel free to contact me. If you want a resource about the legal dos and don’ts about these topics, please check out my book, Flash Mob Law.

You can also connect with me on TwitterGoogle+FacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, and you can subscribe to the Carter Law Firm monthly newsletter.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Should You Blog About Your Crimes?

Crime Scene by Alan Cleaver from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Crime Scene by Alan Cleaver from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Recently I had an interesting conversation with my friend Joe Manna. He wanted to write a blog pot about his experience driving a Prius and he had concerns about disclosing the fact that he was speeding – not just a little over the limit, but driving over 100 mph.

Luckily under the law the burden is on the prosecution to build a case against you. As far as we know, no one from law enforcement saw him speeding and we really don’t know which city/county he was in when this occurred, or even if he was in California or Arizona. Frankly all we have is his claim that he was speeding and anyone who’s ever heard a fishing story knows how much someone’s word can be taken at face value. As far as I know there’s no physical evidence of what actually happened.

Joe’s question brought up a good point – be careful about what you post online and aware of what others post about you. If you disclose that you committed a crime and post videos or pictures from it, that could be evidence that could be used against you.

Think about all the stories you’ve heard about burglars that were caught after they took pictures of themselves with their loot and high school pranksters who took pictures of themselves doing their senior prank or stealing their rival’s mascot.  They were busted in part due to their own stupidity.

This is one of the risks we take in the flash mob world. After each event, we post the blog, photos, and video from the flash mob so people can enjoy our shenanigans. If we did anything illegal during the flash mob, we just admitted it and probably gave law enforcement the evidence they need to prosecute us.

So does Joe have anything to worry about? Probably not. The worst thing he probably has to worry about is he’s put the police on notice that he speeds so maybe the cops in his neighborhood might pay a bit more attention to him when they see him out and about.

Can you blog about your crimes? Of course! Should you? That’s a different question. Think hard about the potential consequences of the post before you tell the internet-accessible world about your wrongdoings. You never know where that information will end up and what those people will do with it.

If you want more information on this topic, please check out my books The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed and Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans.

You can connect with me on TwitterGoogle+FacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me.
You can also subscribe to the Carter Law Firm monthly newsletter.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Prankk Bros vs Providence Police Officer

 

Alien Invasion Prank by the Freaky the Snowman Guys

Alien Invasion Prank by the Freaky the Snowman Guys

Jay Lichtenberger of Prankk Bros and RipFilms, best known for the Freaky the Scary Snowman pranks and videos asked me for my take on their latest Alien Invasion Prank and their run-in with the police. I’m a fan of Freaky the Scary Snowman and the guys seem to be pretty mindful about what they’re doing to make sure that everyone has a good time.

In their latest stunt, they have one of their guys dressed up as a giant alien who surprises people coming around the corner in Providence, Rhode Island.  They surprised a lot of people (but wouldn’t you be if you encountered a seven-foot tall person?) but everyone on the video seemed to enjoy it. I really appreciated that the alien was careful not to touch anyone initially. Look when he comes around the corner – his palms are open and his hands are up and away from the people.

The alien took a lot of pictures with people, including with someone’s baby at the request of the mother. He gave high fives and hugs, danced with people, and played with someone’s puppy. When the police rolled up, they acknowledged their risk of liability and that they were being careful to which the officer said, “Have fun.”

For at least one of their locations, they had permission from the business owner to carry on with their prank outside the place of business. Despite this permission, a different police officer ordered them to leave. Apparently this is the same officer who gave them a hard time about Freaky. I love how the Providence cop kicked them out but the Newport police officer thought it was hilarious and just watched from down the street.

What about the cop on the alien video who said he told them to stop twice in two days, but from two different locations? I think it’s reasonable for the guys to think that maybe they couldn’t be on public property doing a prank one day but think it might be ok to get permission from the business owner to do the same stunt a different day at the business’ location. If anything, it shows a desire to comply with the law.

The video shows the officer threatening to arrest the guys for failure to move, which sounds like failure to comply with an order from law enforcement, which is a crime. It was interesting that the officer did not cite any other laws that the guys could be accused of breaking. The video also didn’t show the officer say anything about receiving complaints. I wonder if the guys are acting completely within the laws and this officer just doesn’t like them.

I appreciate the other officer who suggested that the guys file a complaint against the officer with internal affairs at the police station, especially when he said, “Don’t let them knock you down either.” What these guys are doing is definitely a violation of social norms; but if it’s not a violation of any laws, leave them alone. If there is a violation, tell them so they know what not to do next time.

The RipFilm guys may want to give up on doing pranks in Providence if filing the complaint against the police officer doesn’t work out. But at least they know that Newport will welcome them with open arms.

If you want more information about how to stay out of troule while doing pranks, please check out my book Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans.

You can connect with me on TwitterGoogle+FacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me.
You can also subscribe to the Carter Law Firm monthly newsletter.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Go Topless Day 2013

scar web by istolethetv from Flickr

scar web by istolethetv from Flickr

International Go Topless Day is coming up on Sunday, August 25th. I’m not kidding; it’s a real holiday aimed at bringing awareness to gender inequality when it comes to how much of your torso you have to have covered when you walk out of the house.

In every state in the U.S., men can walk around in public without wearing a shirt. The same is generally not true for women. Every state has a law against showing at least part of the female breast in public. In Arizona, women must keep their areolas covered so women can go shirtless in public as long as their wearing at least a pair of pasties, band-aids, or pieces of electrical tape. Other states, like California, are weird and require women to cover not only their areolas but also the bottom half of their breasts at all times. (Who would have thought that California would be more closed-minded than Arizona on this issue?)

There are a handful of cities that have passed local laws that allow men and women to be topless in public – like New York, Washington D.C., and Austin. (I wish I knew that when I was at SXSW.) These laws are technically unconstitutional but the states have bigger fish to fry than to go after a handful of topless women.

Wherez all da love ppl? by TheeErin from Flickr

Wherez all da love ppl? by TheeErin from Flickr

To bring awareness to the inequality between men and women under these indecent exposure laws, Go Topless protests have been organized in a handful of cities. At these events, if it’s illegal for women to be topless in public in that city, men and women are encouraged to dress within the limits of the law for women by wearing pasties, body paint, bikini tops, or the like. If the city law allows both genders to be topless in public, it’s more of a celebration and everyone’s encouraged to bare their chest. (If you want to wear pasties, I strongly recommend Nippies – they’re high quality and have an excellent adhesive.)

Please check out this map to see if there is a Go Topless event being organized in your community on August 25th. If you go, please make sure you act within in the limits of your state and city’s laws and wear sunblock! For my Phoenix people, there will be a Go Topless protest in Tempe starting at 10 a.m. where people will be walking down Mill Ave. sans shirts but with their areolas covered.

If you want more information about decency laws and these types of events, I talk about indecent exposure in relationship to the annual No Pants Ride in my new book Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans or contact a First Amendment attorney in your community.

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