A 34-year-old man was arrested twice on Sunday afternoon for walking naked through downtown Lawrence, causing a stir among the shops and restaurants.
“Jaws dropped,” says Sophie Milstein, a server at 715 Restaurant, at 715 Massachusetts St. “It was from a movie or something.”
According to police, Christopher Steven Carlson of Riley was first taken into custody at around 2 p.m. Sunday on Massachusetts near Ninth Street. He was cited for indecent exposure, fined $500 and released.
Within minutes, photos started circulating on Snapchat and Facebook. An image of a bearded man walking nude past Garry Gribble’s Running Sports, 839 Massachusetts St., was posted to the Facebook page Lawrence KS Community & Police Scanner, and had more than 900 shares by noon on Monday.
“I was just downtown with two kids,” one woman commented. “Glad we missed him.”
“It’s one thing to streak, run, jog,” another man posted. “But to stroll, walk, electric slide — c’mon, man.”
According to police, Carlson was cited again for indecent exposure and theft of services at around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, when he was spotted sans clothes on West 10th Street just west of Massachusetts. The police were called after a driver with Ground Transportation Services reported that he had taken a 34-year-old man from the Douglas County Jail to downtown.
According to a police report, the driver said the man didn’t have money to pay his fare, “took off his clothes and left the vehicle.”
Carlson was still in police custody as of 12:30 p.m. Monday.
The unusual incident reminded many online commenters of widespread sightings of a naked man nonchalantly walking the streets of Topeka two years ago.
Kansas law forbids public nudity only when it involves “intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desires of the offender or another.” But municipal ordinances are often stricter. According to Lawrence city code, indecent exposure is a misdemeanor, and it’s defined as any person willfully exposing his or her “private parts” in a public space. Those parts include “male and female genitalia, buttocks and female breast.”
Not everyone who witnessed Carlson’s Sunday stroll was offended.
“Our customers were not alarmed,” says Meg Heriford, owner of Ladybird Diner, 721 Massachusetts St. “It was more like, ‘Hey, there’s a naked guy.’ ”
Explains Milstein, the 715 server: “I think people in Lawrence are desensitized to that kind of thing.”