Topless rally in Bellingham attracts few attendees; organizer, sick, unable to show

A rally meant to oppose laws requiring women to cover their breasts scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 28, did not pan out as its organizer had planned.

GoTopless Bellingham, an event meant to coincide with a worldwide GoTopless Day, was scheduled to run between noon and 5 p.m. at Maritime Heritage Park.

The event’s Facebook page showed nearly 150 people planned to attend and nearly 500 were at least interested in going.

But only three women had arrived to the park topless around 1 p.m.

Chantel Shepherd, the event’s sole organizer, said at about 2 p.m. that she had been taken by ambulance Sunday morning to St. Joseph hospital with a possible lung infection, and would not be able to attend the event.

Shepherd, 32, of Bellingham, noted she had been the event’s only organizer, and that others involved were not willing to speak at the rally without Shepherd present.

Some members of Open Carry Whatcom County also were at the park. Group member John Laigaie said they were there to show support for another group “trying to exercise their right.”

Shepherd said she planned to post videos reciting the speeches she had written to the GoTopless Bellingham Facebook page. She added that she hoped to organize an event for next year’s GoTopless Day.

“I’m still going to get the word out there,” she said. “I just wanted to make sure I was taking care of myself and my body. I don’t think this is going to make much of a difference on the movement.”

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan