Over Independence Day, police were in force along the traditionally gay section of the beach at Jacob Riis Park, where one gay man was pounced on and arrested for briefly being nude.
Brooklyn photographer Krys Fox told the Daily Dot he was photographing someone for an Instagram photo series when the towel he had wrapped around his waist dropped and he was momentarily exposed.
But before he could refasten it, he was tackled to the ground by multiple officers.
“I just didn’t wrap my towel around my waist tight enough and it suddenly slipped down and I literally got sent to jail for it,” he said.
Fox had removed his bathing suit to let it try, but says he had no intention of going naked. The police had been sweeping the beach all day, according to Fox, “on horses, in uniform [and] undercover.
Six uniformed officers and several undercover plainclothes officers carried Fox off the beach as he screamed, “Help me.”
He wasn’t even allowed to get dressed before he was taken to jail, where he was forced to wear a paper robe as he sat in a cell for three hours.
Fox was ultimately charged with public nudity, disorderly conduct, interfering with agency function and disobeying an order, before being sent home.
In a towel.
Riis Beach is a National Park Service area monitored by park police, not the New York Police Department, and neighbors often complain, especially gay beachgoers and nudists. But violence and serious crime are rare.
Technically nudity is illegal on the beach, though it is usually not enforced.
“I’d always heard that it was a clothing-optional beach,” Fox said. “I can’t even begin to answer why they chose me. I wasn’t causing a scene, I was just shooting a photo of someone like I always do.”
A police spokesperson saus Fox was asked politely to leave the beach several times but refused. It was then that Fox was arrested and, when he resisted, was carried to a police car on the boardwalk.
The arrest was captured on numerous videos posted across social media.
Regulars at Riis complain that the police presence has increased, though there are usually no arrests. On the day Fox was taken in, witnesses say police targeted the gay section of the beach exclusively, ignoring other areas.
The incident comes just after relations between the LGBT community and police seemed to be improving in New York: Police officers marched in the New York Pride parade, and provided increased security in the wake of the Pulse shooting in Orlando.
A recent report on LGBT-related complaints against the NYPD found the number has dropped significantly in the past five years.
About 1% of all complaints against the NYPD are by LGBT people, most involving officers using anti-gay slurs.
Earlier today, Fox posted on Facebook: “I’m still an American. And I still love my country. No matter what. But I’m going offline for a while—I’m overwhelmed and need to rest.”