KOIN -PORTLAND, Ore. — Topless panhandling in Portland? Officials tell KOIN the action is perfectly legal. The debate started Friday, after one woman took panhandling to a whole new level on the streets of Portland.
She’s seen here in KOIN’s now-blurred video — flashing people at Southwest 7th Avenue and Clay Street between Portland’s university and downtown districts. At least one person is caught on camera handing over cash.
Mike Marshman from Portland Police said that what she’s doing is perfectly legal — as long as she’s not intending to arouse anyone.
The woman did appear to be wearing pasties. She was with a man who held a sign saying they were in need of food.
Portland is one of the few cities where it is not illegal for women to go topless in public, according to a Vanguard report. The report found that in Portland it’s considered a move toward gender equality, where men are already allowed to remove their shirts.
Marshman said that her use of pasties leaves “no question to the legality.” “She is covering the part up that would arouse people [according to the law],” he said. Oregon’s public indecency law merely prohibits the exposure of “genitals” with “the intent of arousing the sexual desire of the person or another person.” Meanwhile, those who saw Friday’s topless panhandling say they’re not surprised. “I think,” said a bystander, “it’s part of life in Portland.”