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‘I’m not nude!’: Acrobat handcuffed after wearing thong to Myrtle Beach

Click to play video 'Police handcuff woman for wearing thong at Myrtle Beach' Police handcuff woman for wearing thong at Myrtle Beach
WATCH: Sam Panda, an acrobatic and aerial performer, posted a video to Facebook showing Myrtle Beach police handcuffing her on Sunday.

Police handcuffed a well-known acrobat during a dispute over her thong-style bikini at Myrtle Beach, S.C., in a weekend incident that sparked outrage after the video was posted online.

Sam Panda, an aerialist who captured headlines for surviving a brutal fall back in 2017, shared video of the beach incident on her Facebook page on Sunday, where she claimed she had been targeted because of her body.

The video shows Panda being handcuffed and led off to a police truck on the beach while her two friends — a man and a woman — argue with the officers over her attire and the city’s beach bylaws, which explicitly prohibit thongs. The video appears to have been shot by Panda’s male friend who can be heard pleading her case throughout the 20-minute clip.

“A woman called the cops on me because of my bikini,” Panda wrote in the description for the video. She also blasted the caller as a body-shaming “Karen,” a viral term for a white woman who reports trivial issues to people in authority.

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“Some Karen decided that my body was offensive to her and showed her child that her body could one day lead to her arrest,” Panda wrote.

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Police told Fox 8 they were called to the scene on Sunday for a report of two women in thongs and one in a see-through top who were “dancing and soliciting videos on the beach.” They say one woman was detained for trying to walk away.

The video posted on Panda’s Facebook page shows her wearing a pink bikini top, a black low-rise thong and a baseball cap. Her female friend can be seen wearing a white bikini bottom and a tied-off white tank top.

The video starts with Panda being restrained by two officers who cuff her hands behind her back. The man filming the incident urges Panda to “calm down” before asking police what is happening.

“She’s being detained,” says one officer, whose nametag reads “K. Dick.” The other officer then explains that they’re taking Panda to their jeep to show her the ordinance against her swimwear.

The officers spend about 15 minutes arguing with Panda over the ordinance, which they read to her from a booklet. They appear to be citing Myrtle Beach’s controversial “thong rule,” which was passed back in 2009 to prohibit revealing bathing suits in public.

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“It shall be unlawful for any person to appear in the nude on any public beach … in the view of the public,” one officer says, while reading from the booklet.

“I’m not nude!” Panda says.

“You’re in a thong,” Officer Dick says.

“A thong is not nude,” Panda’s friend with the camera says.

The bylaw also makes it illegal to appear in “a state of dress or undress so as to expose to the view of others specified anatomical areas.”

Panda and her friends argue with the officers for several minutes over the rule. They also point out other beachgoers in skimpy outfits and demand to know why those people aren’t being punished.

“I specifically chose not to wear a thong today,” Panda’s friend says in the video, after explaining that her bikini bottom is a Brazilian cut.

“I wear a thong every day,” Panda says.

Sam Panda, centre, and her friend, left, were told their outfits violated public decency rules at the beach in South Carolina on Aug. 2, 2020.
Sam Panda, centre, and her friend, left, were told their outfits violated public decency rules at the beach in South Carolina on Aug. 2, 2020. Sam Panda/Facebook

Another officer eventually shows up and tells Dick to uncuff Panda. The third officer then explains the ordinance to both women and lets them go.

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The video has been watched, liked and shared thousands of times since it was posted on Panda’s Facebook page Sunday night. Hundreds of people piped up in the comments to argue both sides of the debate.

“How is this not inappropriate?” wrote one critic who sparked more than a dozen responses. “That bottom is smaller than most of my thong underwear, and the chick with the nipples … I personally wouldn’t call the police but come on.”
“Yeah but where do you draw the line?” another woman replied. “When will we stop policing what women wear? Damn, just live and let live.”

Another user triggered dozens of reactions by saying that thongs on the beach are “so disrespectful.”

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“There is (sic) kids out on the beach all day long and it’s making my child come up and question why they have underwear on at the beach,” the woman wrote. “Clearly you and your friend need to learn how to wear a bathing suit properly or go to a private pool.”

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Other users came to Panda’s defence, calling it a “ridiculous” law and a “crazy” reason to call police. “Don’t take your kids places where people swim because there will be less clothing,” one user suggested. “Buy a kiddy pool.”

Panda urged people to “cancel Myrtle Beach” in an earlier post on Sunday, in which she accused the person who called police of “slut-shaming” her. She also seems to suggest that the caller was a woman at the beach with her teenage daughter.

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“You have objectified a female body that does not belong to you and have showed your daughter that those actions are acceptable,” Panda wrote.

“You should be absolutely ashamed of yourself.”

Panda also criticized police for the arrest on her Instagram page.

“This is a vulgar use of force, an egregious overuse of power, and it needs to be addressed,” she wrote.