Fewer people turn out for Asheville topless rally

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 27, 2012

ASHEVILLE (AP) — Fewer people than expected turned out for a topless rally in Asheville intended to promote women’s equality.
Several hundred people attended the event sponsored by GoTopless.org on Sunday afternoon. About a dozen women went topless.
About two thousand people attended last year’s event, including several dozen women who bared their breasts.
North Carolina law allows women to be topless. A number of cities have ordinances banning topless women but Asheville does not.
Police Capt. Tim Splain said 14 officers worked the rally but had no problems
Organizer Jeff Johnson of Huntsville, Ala., said he was surprised by the smaller turnout. He criticized Asheville City Council members for a statement Thursday asking people to stay away.
“I’m not sure they have any business making any comments on a public protest,” Johnson said.
He said his group contends that laws and social stigmas against women being topless in public are unfair. Johnson says the campaign is similar to civil rights struggles for minorities and gays.
“They had to go and fight for their rights,” he said. “We’re going to fight for the right for women and men to be treated equally.”
“All human beings should have equal rights,” said Barbara Bradley, a 27-year-old Asheville waitress, who was topless. “Why should we have to hide them and cover them.”
A small group of people carrying white crosses attended as a counter-demonstration.
“It’s about the spiritual wickedness in this city,” said Michael Lombardi of Asheville.