NC topless rally in 2012. Courtesy Asheville Citizen-Times.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (ACT) -- An annual topless rally in downtown Asheville is back for a third year on Sunday.
The event, organized by Huntsville, Ala. resident Jeff Johnson and his group GoTopless.org, is set for 1-3 p.m. at Pack Square Park.
Johnson said the point of the rally is to raise awareness that laws and social stigmas against women baring their breasts in public are unfair.
"The intent of these rallies is to get to the point where you don't need to do this - that it will be accepted," he said. "Breasts don't hurt anybody. They are not a crime."
Asheville City Council members researched ways to stop the event after last year's rally, but Vice Mayor Esther Manheimer said today the board's hands are tied because state law allows toplessness.
"The majority of council - if we could - would do something about this," she said. "As a mother, as a citizen in this community, I'm extremely disappointed. As a city council member, I'll uphold the law. The law restricts our ability to prohibit this."
A local group opposing the rally will sponsor a photo contest on the day of the rally, awarding three $100 prizes for photos showing Asheville police officers failing to enforce the law, said Dr. Carl Mumpower, one of the organizers. The group has a website, GoBrainless.org, dedicated to disrupting the rally.
Mumpower said topless participants have engaged in other activities besides baring their breasts.
"It is the sexual performance of fondling breasts and other things these people do that are out of line," he said. "It's our feeling the police haven't been doing their job in enforcing the law."
Mumpower's group also plans to award a $1,000 prize for any photo showing a City Council member committing a criminal act, a contest that will be ongoing.
"What we want to drive home now is that those who should be more responsible - our elected and public officials - are not being responsible," Mumpower said. "We want to bring attention to their failure."