Boulder DA Stan Garnett and the ACLU's Mark Silverstein weigh in post-Mall Crawl and Naked Pumpkin Run
We still don't know all the particulars about the Halloween festivities on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall on Saturday; at this writing, the Boulder Police Department is still gathering information about total citations and arrests. But it's clear that the low level of participation (and actual nudity) in the annual Naked Pumpkin Run means Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett won't be dealing with an influx of complicated new cases. "We had a team of lawyers available to help the police in case there was a lot of activity," Garnett says. "But there wasn't really anything unusual."
Stan Garnett isn't having to spend a lot of time weighing the differences between indecent exposure and public indecency.
Garnett was among those who heard (apparently unfounded) rumors that the Naked Pumpkin Run would be moved to another location to avoid a confrontation with the Boulder Police Department -- which would have undermined the concept in his mind. "I thought part of the point of the Naked Pumpkin Run was doing it on the Mall, where everyone could see it," he notes. "It's like of like, 'If a tree falls in a forest and nobody's there to hear it, did it make a sound?' This is, 'If you're running around naked with a pumpkin on your head and nobody's around to see it, does it count?'"
In addition to concerns about the Naked Pumpkin Run, the Boulder Police feared that a Facebook-based attempt to revive the Boulder Mall Crawl, which was abolished in the early '90s due to concerns about damage, among other things, would turn Halloween chaotic. From all reports, that didn't happen -- but Mark Silverstein of the American Civil Liberties Union, which wrote a letter to the BPD complaining about its tactics, doesn't think the department should interpret the relatively benign nature of Saturday's happenings as evidence that it did the right things in every case.
"I think the action had the potential to chill the right of the Facebook posters to encourage people to come downtown for a peaceful and legal evening," he says. "And I certainly hope the Boulder police have now abandoned their thoughts about filing a legal action now that the event is over" -- meaning assessing a charge for security costs to the Facebook tandem, Ryan Van Duzer and Jonathan Sackheim. Likewise, he goes on, "we certainly hope they don't attempt to intimidate people next year if they want to come downtown and stroll peacefully along public streets."
Even if they're wearing pumpkins on their heads...