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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.

Mate Jozic August 06, 2013 at 07:17 AM
I don`t know why women should be allowed to be topless. Women MUST be properly covered, period.
Mark Story Jenks August 06, 2013 at 10:15 AM
When you come right down to it, a lot of men might as well be forced to wear tops as well. I'm not fat by any means, but age has rewarded me with saggy man boobs. But I wouldn't last long on a hunger strike. I need my whole milk every day.
greg thompson August 06, 2013 at 12:42 PM
starve!
Seamus Murphy August 06, 2013 at 01:42 PM
so equal rights goes right out the window? if as men we can be without a shirt in public why cant women?
Penn Cross August 06, 2013 at 02:41 PM
The Supreme Court needs to take up this case. This is sexism at its worst. A woman goes to jail for what a man is legally allowed to do. Mindboggling in this day and age.
Jennifer Arnold-Delgado August 06, 2013 at 11:51 PM
hmmm. surgeons are legally allowed to cut into womens breasts , and place sacks of saline or silicone inside them, so that they hold the pervy styles at peak performance - but women , are not allowed to hold their own selves in a natural state . Let's not even go into the breastfeeding in public topic ...
Mischa August 10, 2013 at 11:59 AM
I have seen people on the beach who should be wearing potato sacks to cover up their bodies. Yet, these people are allowed on the beaches without restriction. Why is everyone so hung-up on breasts when I have seen men with far larger breasts walking around on the beach? If there a standard, it should be that everyone should be properly covered in public places. That means, no dental floss bathing suits, no bikinis on people shouldn't be wearing them, no men without tops, no hairy armpits on men or women, no low-rider jeans and no butt cracks showing. Equality in all areas should be enforced.
sevenout August 10, 2013 at 06:29 PM
Much ado about nothing. If she goes around topless, let her.
Lori August 11, 2013 at 09:02 AM
There are extreme differences between a mans 'chest' and a woman's 'breasts'. If there wasn't then why when a man is naked from the waist up is it's called 'shirtless' and when a women is, it's called 'topless'? Women's breasts are there for a natural reason. However, they are much more often used for sexual reasons. If they weren't, there would be NO reason why so many women today have silicone or other substances surgically implanted underneath their skin. This is just an excuse for certain women to be exhibitionists.....and certain men to enjoy it! With the number of rapes and groping going on in public I can say with 100% certainty that society is not ready for this. As long as someone is able to lust, it will never be ok.
Penn Cross August 11, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Are you saying men wont be able to control themselves if they see bare breasts? That's an insult to men. The only people who wont be able to control themselves are criminals. And I assure you, allowing women to go topless will not turn men into criminals. By the way, women lust over male chests and view them in a sexual way too.
Lori August 11, 2013 at 04:16 PM
@Penn Cross No, I am not saying men won't be able to control themselves if they see bare chests. Nor would I go as to far to say that only criminals won't be able to control themselves or that topless women will turn men into criminals, lol. One thing you are correct about though is that some women lust over male chests and view them in a sexual way too. For this reason I feel that nobody should be allowed to run around without a shirt on in public. That's what nudist camps and strip clubs are for.
Kim Ferrie August 11, 2013 at 09:14 PM
FYI: In case you all didn't know it, men and women are different! God created us different. Can you just get over it and move on?!? We don't want to see your "items" bouncing around in public. Women should wear shirts! Period!! Save it for the bedroom, ladies! What are you trying to prove?
Debi August 12, 2013 at 10:15 AM
I will never understand why anyone gives any attention to anyone being on a hunger strike for a cause. If they want to starve themselves..let them! It never changes the thing they are protesting and all they are getting is unwarrented attention. Let them starve if they so desire. Who cares?
gregory l. mitchell August 12, 2013 at 03:09 PM
Think of this carefully now-Some argue whats the difference men are bare chested on any beach no one even gives it a 2nd thought.Now some will argue to be "EQUAL"now women should be given the same constitutional right.Now we have all ages of men,women,girls & boys out on beaches or pools etc.With the rise in pedophilia all around us,with young girls going thru puberty would be a "field day" for these pedophiles-think now!LET'S BE SENSIBLE AND KEEP LAWS AS THEY NOW ARE!!Respectfully,Gregory L.Mitchell,W.Caldwell
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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