One of two women who was arrested for going topless at a Bernie Sanders rally in Los Angeles in March has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department for $3 million for using excessive force.
Anni Ma, 25, is also alleging she suffered a urinary tract infection due to unsanitary conditions at the jail she was booked into for 25 hours as a result of her actions, which she said were part of the “free the nipple” movement.
According to local ABC affiliate ABC 7, Ma was charged with indecent exposure, and accused of violating a penal code regarding exposure of private parts in a public place.
“Breasts, by law, are not genitals, therefore, indecent exposure was not an appropriate charge,” Ma’s attorney, Allen Baylis told ABC 7. “A political rally is the one place where the First Amendment protection is the highest. So their arrest stopped her from exercising her First Amendment rights,” Baylis added.
The Sanders rally took place on March 23 at the Wiltern Theater. Ma was wearing a skirt without any underwear on and had masking tape covering her nipples with the words “free the nipple” and “feel the bern” strewn across her chest and torso. She later removed the masking tape from her nipples, which is when she got into trouble for indecent exposure.
Ma noted her view to ABC 7 that the woman’s body is “hyper-sexualized,” and that by appearing in public topless she was “existing in a non-sexual position where many people don’t get to see that very often.”
Ma has been one of the main activists in the “free the nipple” movement. An alumnus of the University of California San Diego, she led over 100 male and female participants in a “free the nipple” protest at the school last May.
Miley Cyrus and Scout Willis — Demi Moore and Bruce Willis’s daughter — have also participated in the movement.
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