Police arrested two members of an organization called Breasts Not Bombs after they removed their tops during a protest on the steps of the state Capitol on Monday afternoon.
The women, who were protesting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's ballot measures for today's special election, took off their shirts despite warnings from the California Highway Patrol last week that doing so would lead to their arrests -- and possibly their inclusion on the state's list of sex offenders. A federal judge Friday refused to grant a request from Breasts Not Bombs to block the police from arresting topless protesters.
Officials at the Sacramento County district attorney's office said they have not decided whether to prosecute the protesters, and if they do, whether to seek to have them listed as sex offenders.
"We have done these demonstrations from San Francisco to Mendocino to the gates of the White House and never been restrained in this way," said Breasts Not Bombs member Sherry Glaser of Albion, Calif., near Mendocino, addressing about 100 onlookers.
Soon after, Glaser, 45, removed her top and was promptly arrested. Renee Love, 40, also of Albion, was arrested after she removed her top. Both were charged with indecent exposure, disorderly conduct and going beyond the scope of their permit to demonstrate on state property.
"The permit specifically said that nudity would not be allowed," said Tom Marshall, a CHP spokesman. "We're clearly following the law as it was written. They took us to court Friday seeking a restraining order to stop us from arresting them and the judge came down on our side."
Angered that Glaser and Love could be listed on the sex offender registry if convicted of lewd acts, state Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) joined the protesters before their arrests to announce that she would introduce legislation to decriminalize the baring of breasts in public. "While it is legal for men to go shirtless in public in California," she said, "women risk being classified as sex offenders for baring the same body parts."