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'Topless' Activist Vows Hunger Strike Over Spring Lake Nudity Case

'Phoenix Feeley' booked into Monmouth County jail on Monday

Phoenix Feeley, in a 2012 Facebook photo. (Credit: Facebook/ Phoenix Feeley)
Phoenix Feeley, in a 2012 Facebook photo. (Credit: Facebook/ Phoenix Feeley)
Clothes, yes. Food, no. At least while she's in jail.

A New York City woman who is well known as an activist for "topless rights" is vowing a hunger strike after being jailed in Monmouth County on Monday.

The case against Phoenix Feeley, who was previously known as Jill Coccaro, began in 2008 when she was arrested and fined in Spring Lake after vowing to bare her breasts on the borough's beachfront.

Feeley, now 33, was arrested twice after refusing to wear a top on the beach, a violation of a borough ordinance. Her second arrest came the same day as the first, and after borough police supplied her with a t-shirt, court records say.

Her case eventually worked its way through the state's court system, culminating in a ruling in favor of Spring Lake rendered by the state appellate court. In 2012, the state Supreme Court refused to take up her case.

Since then, Feeley's case could presumably have been settled through the payment of a simple fine, but she has refused.

In lieu of the fine, Feeley reported to the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, Freehold, on Monday after refusing to pay $1,501, according to records provided by the Monmouth County Sheriff's Department.

State law calls for a 25 day sentence in the case of a refusal to pay a fine for a petty disorderly person's offense.

But jail officials could be in for a difficult few weeks. Feeley has vowed a hunger strike during her time behind bars, her supporters said.

"As we went to press, she was set to begin a hunger strike the moment she arrived at the jail," said Nadine Gary, spokesperson for GoTopless.org, which advocates for the right of women to go topless in public, in a statement.

Gary, in the statement, equated Feeley's fight to that of Rosa Parks, the black woman who famously refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala. bus in 1955 to a white man during a period of forced racial segregation.

"In the municipal court, the judge said he'd have her thrown in jail if she went topless again in his town," Gary said. "But the superior court judge seemed to uphold her constitutional topless rights, saying she wouldn't 'be made to sit in the back of the bus.' He was referring to Rosa Parks, of course."

Feeley, through her attorney, has reached out to the U.S. Supreme Court for assistance in the case, but so far no action has been taken.

Sheriff's office officials told the Newark Star-Ledger on Monday that they "closely monitor" inmates who vow hunger strikes. No details were provided on Feeley's case.

Feeley, in the past, has claimed victory in her pro-nudity cases. In 2007, she received a $29,000 settlement from the New York City Police Department, the Daily News reported at the time.

gregory l. mitchell August 12, 2013 at 03:35 PM
P2.Listen Feeley orCoccaro or whatever alias you choose to run under.I wish I could be able to tell you this to your face,but obviously can not so perhaps you'll go down to the prison library es you'll catch it here on their computer.(Bought es paid for by the taxpayers)And my message to you is simply:"Go ahead sit there in the corner of your cell and try to starve,after a time you'll be ready to eat your shoes-I needed mine when you go out in the exercise yard you'll pull up grass and try and eat that!!!!Now mine wasn't in Prison but up in the high Sierras of California.You don't even know what it's going to be like yet! Respectfully,G.L.Mitchell
Penn Cross August 13, 2013 at 04:02 PM
^^ Wow. Lori, how about we all wear suits of armor to completely avoid any chance of naughty thoughts? Lol.
Shad August 14, 2013 at 08:15 AM
What about the tax paying residents of Spring Lake who did not choose to buy their home in a "progressive" beach town? What about parents of teens who would like to take their kids to the beach as well as teach lessons in decorum and modesty? What about people who are uncomfortable? Do these people not have rights? Obviously this woman does not have a teenage daughter. Have some class and think about someone else's situation. You have alternatives to Spring Lake. Go to Sandy Hook! This is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Lori August 14, 2013 at 09:08 AM
^^^Suits of armor??? No thank you, Ill pass. There will always be chances of naughty thoughts no matter what someone is wearing or not wearing. There are a lot of perverted ppl in our society. I witnessed over 50 of them last night at an on-location photo shoot in lower Manhattan. The female models were wearing lingerie. I can't imagine how many more would have had their camera's out had the models been topless????
gregory l. mitchell August 14, 2013 at 11:57 AM
SHAD:EXCELLENT POINT-YOU ARE LOOKING AT THIS SITUATION WITH LOGIC AND INTELLIGENCE-"NUFF SAID"!! Respectfully,Gregory L. Mitchell

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