Queen’s Riis Park is a bona fide beach paradise for misfits, and an obligatory destination on 4th of July weekend for gays who didn’t feel like going to Provicetown or Fire Island. Popular among boozed-up men clad in stars-and-stripes posing trunks — and women who want to canoodle topless without dealing with dueling, drooling bros — Riis and its relative remoteness has given it the reputation of an unselfconscious, carefree safe haven.
On Monday, a Brooklyn-based photographer named Krys Fox found himself unexpectedly tackled by police after his towel dropped off his waist. Fox, a gay man, was working on an Instagram photo series while his wet bathing shorts dried in the sun.
Speaking to the Daily Dot, Fox reports that police were patrolling the beach all day. They were “on horses, in uniform, undercover” — “everywhere.” Whether the NYPD were on the lookout for particularly heated volleyball tournaments or transgressive body board maneuvers remains unclear. Nevertheless, the last thing Fox expected was to be arrested due to a mild towel malfunction.
“I just didn’t wrap my towel around my waist tight enough,” he tells Daily Dot, “and it suddenly slipped down and I literally got sent to jail for it.”
Here’s an eyewitness account, which was shared on Facebook:
Because Riis is a National Park Service area and not a city beach, the rules are far more lenient. Alcohol is served in booths, and many sunbathers are nude — to the point that casual onlookers would assume it’s actually a nude beach.
Fox certainly thought it was. “I’d always heard that it was a clothing-optional beach,” he said. “I keep running it over and over in my head, and 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.”
The photographer also describes himself as “shy;” the type of person who “would never run around naked.” As anyone who goes to Riis with any regularity would know, he’s in the minority as far as that’s concerned.
On social media, people are insisting cops were only patrolling the gay section of Riis, and are comparing the incident to gay bar raids and bathhouse crackdowns. There’s a general concern that, in a post-Orlando world, the NYPD will use their increased presence in gay spaces to not so much protect the queer community as monitor and antagonize them.
As The Daily Dot reports, a friend of Fox’s commented that “his naked body is seen as more dangerous than a gun.”
Talking to The Huffington Post, Fox described the incident as “very quick and very scary.”
It’s the worst moment of my life. My biggest problem is that Riis is my safe space and I’ve been going there for almost a decade. I got married in 2011 almost exactly where I was arrested. I shoot there all summer long and was working on a photo project I was devoting to the Orlando victims.”
Watch footage of the arrest’s aftermath below: