As more news of police and federal officer brutality comes out of Portland, Oregon, one display of public defiance (and nudity) has gone viral online.
Photos of a woman confronting police and national security officers without any clothes, besides a hat and a face mask, are the talk of the internet. The woman is being dubbed “Naked Athena” online for her bold display of defiance.
— Donovan “It was the blurst of times” Farley 💻🐒 (@DonovanFarley) July 18, 2020
She literally brought tears to my eyes. Not because of her appearance or being naked, but simply her gorgeous spirit.
I love all my comrades. We're just getting started in this war. It will be ugly, bloody & brutal as the days come on.
Shift thinking from protest to insurgency.
— 💥✊ Why_Rock 🏴🚩 (@jwhyrock) July 18, 2020
That was an extremely powerful statement she made. I wonder what the cops were thinking when she appeared. I mean, my jaw hit the floor. I’m glad that the mask and the beanie covered everything but her eyes so I doubt they’ll be able to identify her.
— PatsGirl41 (@PatsGirl41) July 19, 2020
In the past week, anti-police brutality protests have rocked the city of Portland. The Trump administration then sent federal agents to the city. These agents went across town in camouflage, without identifying badges, and began abducting protesters into unmarked vans.
But after Naked Athena appeared this past Sunday night, her very presence helped to defuse some of the situation, according to Comic Sands. Though, that was not without violent pushback from the police. In the video shared through Twitter, one can see the police shotting pepper balls at the woman. Thankfully, a fellow protester with a shield helped to deflect some of the attack.
— Ruth Mee (@ruthmeeartist) July 18, 2020
This moment is one for the history books. And this image will one day be circulated in lectures on American civil disobedience.
I hope local artists run with this and start decorating the city with tributes to “Athena”.
— Brandon🌹 (@napmasters) July 18, 2020
The advantage of protesting in Portland, you can legally do it nude. ✊😂✊🖤
— Captian ACAB's Soup Kitchen (@TheCaptainACAB) July 18, 2020
But what about the legality of the moment? It turns out, Naked Athena’s public nudity is completely legal in Portland. Within the city, public nudity is only illegal if it’s done with the intent to arouse. There’s also a legal precedent for recognizing the act as a form of political protest thus bypassing public decency laws.
So, should more protesters be doing it in the nude? That depends on the situation. Firstly, this act is perfectly legal in Portland. If citizens of other cities were to try it, they might not receive legal backing. In addition, you have to consider the potential harm you’re risking. While Naked Athena was protected by a nearby protester, others may not be so lucky. In addition, being caught without your clothes could put you at greater harm for things like tear gas and rubber bullets. So again, taking a similar action may not work out as well.
With our government committing brutality and nearly martial law level actions against citizens, it seems that American citizens and protesters are in need of new ways to fight back. Will we see similar protesters to Naked Athena in the future? Or, will protesters come up with more creative for the fight against government-funded oppression? If so, kudos to them. Keep fighting the good fight!