After months of debate about whether breasts should be bared in public, Evanston’s Human Services Committee Monday night voted to be vague instead.
Ald. Devon Reid (8th) retreated from his efforts to free breasts from clothing and accepted an amendment from Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) that leaves decisions about suitable public dress largely to the judgment of police.
Here’s how the City Code reads now:
The version of Reid’s proposal that appeared in Monday night’s committee packet would have altered that to remove the bar on baring breasts and add a definition of indecent exposure:
Revelle suggested substituting for the “Lewd exposure” clause language from the municipal code of the Village of Kenilworth that bars people from appearing in public “not properly and decently clothed.”
Revelle has not responded to an email query from Evanston Now asking whether someone could be topless and still “properly and decently clothed.”
Reid seconded Revelle’s amendment and the committee voted unanimously to send the proposed ordinance as amended to the full City Council for consideration.
Reid had originally proposed removing the breast language claiming it subjects gender non-conforming individuals to the possibility of arbitrary arrest by police and treats men and women differently.
The new language — by leaving “properly and decently” undefined — appears to make all persons, regardless of gender, subject to a risk of arbitrary enforcement action.
But it will let the alders duck the need to take a clear vote on whether to let women go topless in public in Evanston.