Photo: Emily Metcalf
Photo: Emily Metcalf

The ACLU has protested the arrest of a topless protestor and her husband in Waikiki last month, calling the action unconstitutional and demanding that a citation against the pair be dismissed.

Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro said this afternoon he will ask Monday for a one-month delay in the case to examine pertinent police reports.

Tess Meier was bare-chested when she and her husband Jamie stood on the sidewalk of Kalakaua Avenue August 21, holding signs and circulating a petition as part of a gender discrimination protest called“ National Go Topless Day.”

Police first told the protestors that their activity “could create traffic problems,” so they “moved to an area on the sidewalk that was not in view of traffic,” Honolulu ACLU attorney Laurie Temple said in a letter this week to Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro.

After 90 minutes, police told the Meiers that they needed a permit, then cited and arrested them when they refused to leave.

“Because the Meiers were engaged in the expression of political and social ideas (specifically, the need for gender equality), the First Amendment must afford them the broadest protection,” Temple’s letter said.

The Meiers did not need a permit when they were on the sidewalk or in an adjacent area which could be construed to be public park property, Temple asserted.

The city ordinance requiring a permit on park property “is rife with constitutional infirmities such that it is unconstitutional both on its face and as applied to the Meiers’ conduct,” said Temple.

“For all of the reasons set forth above, we insist that your office dismiss with prejudice the charges against Jamie and Tess Meier,” the letter said.

Kaneshiro spokesman Dave Koga said  this afternoon prosecutors haven’t seen the police reports of the incident. When that happens Monday, Koga said, “the office intends to request a one-month continuance to study the charges.”

The Meiers are scheduled for arraignment in state District Court Monday morning. They have scheduled a press conference following the court appearance.

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com

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