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Book Ruling Postponed Pending Court Decision

Book Ruling Postponed Pending Court Decision
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Nov 7, 2004 8:00 AM PST    Text size: 
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – XBiz had previously reported on the case of Elizabeth Book, an activist who was arrested for exposing her breasts during a protest at Bike Week in Daytona Beach last March. Book had her day in court this past Thursday, where she argued that police officers violated her First Amendment rights by arresting her.

A defiant Book told Volusia County Judge David D. Beck that she will continue exercising her constitutional rights by publicly showing her breasts despite the city's ban on public nudity. Book, 42, faced second-degree misdemeanor charges after revealing her breasts on the Main Street Bridge during a staged protest that earned international media attention.

Book was protesting Daytona's ordinance that makes it illegal for women to go topless but allows men to do so, a law which the mother of two claims is unfair – something that assistant city attorney Greg McDole disagrees with, stating "She pulls off her shirt and she thinks that's OK, [well,] that's not OK."

Book's counsel, noted First Amendment attorney Lawrence Walters, sees it differently, however, saying that "Ms. Book is a true freedom fighter. She's been through a lot of harassment and intimidation by law enforcement officials and still she continues to fight for her cause. She hasn't earned a dime from all this, and it's refreshing to see someone who is willing to fight hard, and even be jailed, for Free Speech principles. She should be an inspiration to all of us. We're going to need a few more true believers in the times ahead, who are not afraid to take some risks in order to stand up for the First Amendment."

Thursday at trial, Beck postponed his ruling, awaiting a decision by U.S. District Judge John Antoon regarding the constitutionality of the underlying ordinance which is being challenged in a lawsuit filed by Lollipops Gentlemen's Club and Molly Brown's II over Daytona's ban on nudity in establishments that serve alcohol.

"The Judge seemed receptive to our arguments, and we are hopeful that the result in this case will help clarify the law in Daytona Beach that protestors are allowed to use nudity to help convey their message, if they desire. Perhaps the City will finally realize that the First Amendment applies everywhere in this country, even in the City of Daytona Beach," said Walters.

"I'll be back at high noon on March 5," said Book, adding that "I don't believe I committed a crime. Daytona Beach committed a crime against the Constitution of the United States."

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