June 6, 1995 in City

People’s Park Nudists Unglued About Being Labeled Lewd

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tags:column

Cindy Lambert isn’t the least bit ashamed to be interviewed while she sprawls in warm sand as nekkid as a peeled onion.

The woman invited me to Spokane’s famed haven of ungirded loins the other day to chat about something that really embarrasses her:

Being considered lewd for her nudist ways.

Lambert, 38, is one of a handful of sun lovers who got their bare buns ticketed during a recent police sweep of People’s Park, along the banks of the Spokane River just west of the city.

They were cited for “lewd conduct,” which Lambert finds highly offensive because the misdemeanor can be applied to far sleazier things than mere nudity.

According to the city code, sickos who masturbate, urinate, defecate or engage in intercourse in public can also be popped for lewd conduct. A conviction carries up to a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail.

In the minds of Lambert and her free-spirited friends, there is nothing remotely lewd about being nude.

“I was asleep on the beach. The cop had to wake me up to give me the ticket,” says Bob Grothe, 45. “How can you be asleep and be lewd?”

The nudists have contacted a lawyer. They vow to fight this in court and I hope they win.

Getting an all-over tan is normal behavior at People’s Park.

Grothe has been part of the People’s Park fleshscape since 1975. Lambert began doffing her duds there in 1984.

“I won’t say that there’s a grandfather clause,” she adds, “but police have allowed us to be nude down here for at least 20 years.

“So why do they suddenly come out of the bushes like a bunch of vultures and pluck out a few of us?”

In the early 1980s, four People’s Park nudists fought their lewd conduct citations. Helped by the ACLU, the sun lovers won when the ordinance was ruled unconstitutional.

The city drafted another lewd law, but it apparently hasn’t been tested. Until now.

Just what Spokane needs, another asinine court battle.

People’s Park is just a few minutes west of downtown Spokane, but you have to be a determined voyeur to see any skin. It takes a quarter-mile hike down a dusty trail to reach this secluded spot where Hangman Creek meets the Spokane River.

During Expo ‘74, this lovely place was jammed with camping hippies, many of whom frolicked naked in the river.

A national nudist hotline still lists People’s Park among America’s nude beaches. Workers at the Peaceful Valley Community Center will gladly give the curious step-by-step directions.

On hot summer weekends you may find 100 people, lounging near the rushing water in various stages of undress.

I encountered about 25 naked strangers during my visit to see Lambert. Walking clothed among the unclothed is a weird sensation, let me tell you.

Paul, a man with nothing to hide except his real name, said entire naked families gather on Sundays to relax and barbecue burgers.

I’ll bet when you’re a nudist you learn real fast not to dangle too close to the ol’ hibachi.

Lambert and Grothe are worried their citations are the beginning of a new People’s Park purge.

Spokane Police Lt. Jim Nicks says not to worry. No new nudist-hassling policy has been issued.

Nicks was vague about what happened to Lambert and the others on May 22.

He didn’t say why, but a brother officer apparently decided to use “officer discretion” and nail a few unclad sunbathers.

It’s a bum rap. Apparently there weren’t any crack dealers, gang bangers or burglars to arrest.

Ticketing nudists “is not high on our priority list,” Nicks agrees, chuckling. “It must have been a slow day.”

That, Lt. Nicks, is the naked truth.

, DataTimes


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