Oregon Judge Clears Nude Cyclist
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
News of the nude now from Portland, Oregon, where 21-year-old Bobby Hammond was cleared yesterday of indecent exposure charges. He was arrested in June after he stripped down and rode his bicycle naked at nighttime through his neighborhood. But yesterday, Multnomah County Judge Jerome LaBarre ruled that Hammond's bicycling in the buff was protected expression, even if it wasn't protected from dogs, pot holes, or an uncomfortable seat. The judge wrote, it's been well-known since Lady Godiva that the shock value of nudity can be a very important protest. The bicyclist, Bobby Hammond, joins us from Portland. And Bobby, what were you protesting by bicycling nude?
Mr. BOBBY HAMMOND: That's really a good question. I mean, honestly, when the prosecutor asked me that question, I mean, it's such a hard question, kind of. I mean, you could say that we were protesting cars. The traffic on the street that we live on is just ridiculous (unintelligible). But maybe a better way of looking at it is we're pro something, you know, we're pro-bikes, we're pro the human body. I mean, thousands of people do this sort of thing every year in Portland.
BLOCK: Well, I was reading about this in the Portland Oregonian today that there is a ride in the summer in Portland, the World Naked Bike Ride. And in Portland, there were about, what, 1,200 naked bicyclists, I read. You took in part in that as well.
Mr. HAMMOND: I did.
BLOCK: And what was that like?
Mr. HAMMOND: It was amazing. I mean, if you can imagine 1,200 naked people. I mean, but it's more than that. I mean, it's not that. I don't know, it's just, you know, when you're around that many people, you just don't even think about, one, that you're naked or, two, that any of them are naked. You're just being dorks. I mean - and that's awesome to just be able to do that sometime. I mean...
BLOCK: There is an ordinance in Portland that says it's unlawful for any person to expose his or her genitalia while in a public place. At the same time, you now how this judge saying naked cycling is a well-established tradition in Portland. It's sort of hard to figure out who's in the right here.
Mr. HAMMOND: Oh, exactly. I mean, the city ordinance is ridiculous. It actually states in a public place within view of the opposite sex.
BLOCK: Bobby, do you understand that there might be people, maybe people with children, could be anybody, who just really don't want to see you riding around naked on a bicycle?
Mr. HAMMOND: I mean - but I guess then they can stay out of my neighborhood. I'm not sure.
BLOCK: It might be their neighborhood, too.
Mr. HAMMOND: You know, I know all of my neighbors. I mean, not, you know, everyone, but I know people in the neighborhood who have children and have no problem with it. I mean, you know, I wasn't trying to be a pervert or anything. I mean...
BLOCK: Well, do you have plans for more naked biking?
Mr. HAMMOND: If it comes up. I - you know, and it feels right, I won't stop myself from doing anything. But I'm not going to go out with the intention of pissing people off. I was trying to mind my own business and have a good time with my friends, you know. I mean, we're somewhat radical people. This isn't the craziest thing I've ever done in my life. And I mean, I assure you, for this to be, you know, what I'm getting recognition for, is pretty silly.
BLOCK: Bobby Hammond, thanks very much.
Mr. HAMMOND: All right, thanks.
BLOCK: Bobby Hammond lives and bikes in Portland, Oregon.