Organizers of topless march change time after mayor’s request

UPDATE Thursday a.m. — Organizers say they will move their march to 6:30 p.m. Saturday because the FestivALL activities involving children are scheduled to end at 6 p.m.

Organizers released the following statement:

“As parents, we respectfully disagree with other parents who are raising their daughters to be ashamed of their bodies and their sons to sexualize the female body,” protest leaders said in a statement. “But we cannot, in good conscience, allow our beliefs to keep families from enjoying the events tirelessly planned by amazing and hardworking organizers with FestivALL.”

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Mayor Danny Jones is asking organizers of a topless women demonstration to postpone their scheduled Saturday evening march in downtown Charleston.

Jones has reached out to the organizers through the city’s police department. The FestivALL Street Art Fair and Children’s Art Fair are scheduled for about the same time as the “Free the Nip Top Freedom Rally in WV.” The events would be about a block apart, Jones said.

“A lot of the adults are concerned about the exposure of their children to a bunch of naked women parading down the street,” Jones said. “There’s no good street to put this on.”

Organizers have said they want to march to protest the expectation that women and girls must wear bras and shirts. They’ve requested to be allowed to do so on Summers Street and then march to Haddad Riverfront Park. Going topless is not against the law, Jones said.

“Not as far as we know. The state law would trump whatever ordinance we have,” he said.

There could be as many as 50 to 80 women take part, according to Jones.

“I guess when there are a lot of people downtown they get a lot of exposure that way. The problem is do they really want to parade around naked in front of a bunch of children? That’s the question they are going to have to ask themselves,” Jones said.

The mayor added he’s also concerned about the reaction of the city’s homeless population.

“The publicity this proposed march has received might end up attracting interest from vagrants and others more interested in naked women and less interested in free expression or their cause,” he said.

The rally is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday.

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