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Video: LGBT outrage after police drag a naked man off a historically gay beach in New York

Jacob Riis Beach
David Shankbone on Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0
Jacob Riis Beach in Queens, New York City
Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Less than a month after a shooter killed scores in a Florida LGBT nightclub, a video showing a man tackled and arrested at a popular LGBT-friendly beach in New York is causing outrage.

Krys Fox, a Brooklyn-based photographer, was arrested and dragged from the beach at Jacob Riis Park on July 4 when the towel around his waist fell to the ground. A bystander’s video of the incident has been shared widely on social media.

Jacob Riis Park is widely known as an unofficial nude beach, where skinny dippers and topless tanners are common. And like the Stonewall Inn, which was recently declared a national monument for its place in the gay rights movement, New York’s clothing-optional beaches have a cherished place in LGBT history.

So when Fox laid his swimsuit out to dry and wrapped a towel around his waist, he wasn’t concerned about the consequences of his towel slipping, he told DNAinfo.

Fox, who says he was taking photos for a project dedicated to the Orlando shooting victims, was tackled by park police officers and shoved into the sand. He was then dragged from the beach in nothing but his towel, to a waiting police car. Bystanders captured video on their cellphones of officers carrying Fox to the car as Fox shouted “Help me.”

The park is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area in Queens, New York, and falls under the federal National Park Service control, rather than New York City jurisdiction. Technically, nudity has been banned at Jacob Riis Park since 1983, as it is on other beaches on the Rockaway Peninsula, but enforcement of the rule at Riis Park has historically been lax.

This Independence Day, however, many beachgoers, including Fox, noticed an increased police presence at the beach. The National Park Service said the officers’ “focus was intended to be on illegal vendors and narcotics,” not nude beachgoers.

Officials told DNAinfo that a plainclothes officer had asked Fox to cover up, but he refused to do so, and did not have any ID. (Fox told the publication his ID was stolen during last week’s gay pride celebration.) Fox was arrested after he became “uncooperative,” officers said.

After three hours at the National Park Service station at nearby Floyd Bennett Field, Fox was released and issued several tickets, including two for disorderly conduct and public nudity.

He shared photos on Instagram and Twitter of his arrest and others expressed outrage over his arrest. Fox told DNAinfo that the beach, which was the site of his wedding, has been ruined for him. “It means more to me than any other place in the city, and now I won’t be able to go back without feeling sick,” he said.

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