Protesters pray silently, speak publicly

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FARMINGTON — About two dozen women lined a wall against the Bangor Savings Bank, their hands clasped, backs turned and heads bowed in silent prayer as topless women marched down Main Street on Friday.

“We, as Christian women, have come together to pray for the women that are marching,” protest organizer Dovey Balsam wrote in a statement handed to people attending the event.

“We feel that this display is inappropriate,” Balsam said. “We feel that a woman’s body is sacred and should be treated with respect. Pushing an agenda for women to appear in public topless will only lead to more objectification and unwanted consequences.”

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Police said except for some traffic delays, the march was uneventful.

“We didn’t have any issues whatsoever,” Farmington Lt. Jack Peck said.

As someone’s boom box blasted Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely,” hundreds of people lining the street prior to the event waited in a festive mood, many readying their cameras and video equipment for pictures.

A man dressed as “The Joker” from the Batman movies, who identified himself only as Ross from Wilton, said he took his lunch hour to come to Farmington to say that people should simply lighten up about the issue.

“I think people take this too seriously,” he said.

“This really does not help women’s causes,” he said. “This is ridiculous … There’s too much liberalism and not enough restraint.”

Elaine Graham of Farmington, who followed the marchers down the street, said she was concerned with the message that the marchers were giving to families.

“Anything that tends to break (the family) apart is just not good,” she said.

 Graham said the message being given by the young marchers was that there is nothing wrong with going topless in public. Graham contended that such action may lead young women into becoming strippers or engaging in pornography.

Other women, some around the same age as the college women involved in the march, said they also disagreed with toplessness on the streets of Farmington.

“There’s a time and place,” said 27-year-old Jacqui Clary who stood on the sidewalk with several other young women holding signs with messages such as, “It would be best if you covered your chest,” as the marchers walked past them.

“We want people to know there are decent people in Farmington,” said Vicki Haggan of Farmington, another protester.

Businesspeople seemed not to mind the commotion. Linda Barton of Richard Florists said it hadn’t make much of a difference to her business Friday.

Balsam said they had no further plans to protest the march after it was done, but Graham said she hoped to work to change the state law, which allows public nudity with some restrictions.

“I do think this is a disgrace to the community,” she said.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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