A federal lawsuit filed by a Japanese woman fined for exposing her breasts at North Avenue Beach on national “Go Topless Day” has been dismissed.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman tossed the lawsuit Tuesday at the request of city lawyers, shooting down Sonoko Tagami’s claim that police infringed on her rights to free expression and equal protection.
Tagami argued that Chicago’s public decency ordinance violates the First and Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution because it allows men to bare their breasts in public but denies women that same right.
Tagami was ticketed by a Chicago cop on Aug. 24, 2014, for exposing her breasts during a protest at the downtown beach. She said in her lawsuit that she wore opaque body paint that day. A YouTube video of the incident shows her topless but wearing a skirt, quietly speaking to two female officers on the beach.
She was ordered to pay a $100 fine and $50 in costs at an administrative law hearing. Tagami also asked Coleman to toss the fine, but the judge declined.
“Go Topless Day” is organized by the Raelian movement — a UFO religion formed in the 1970s by a French former journalist and race car driver.
The movement’s website urges women to go topless and states that “women are commonly arrested, fined and humiliated for daring to go topless in public, a freedom men have had for decades.”
Chicago law does allow breastfeeding women to show their breasts in public, but a city ordinance states that anyone whose ”genitals . . . or any portion of the breast at or below the upper edge of the areola thereof any female person, is exposed to public view or is not covered by an opaque covering” faces a fine of up to $500.