According to St. Louis native and social justice blogger at Michelle Parrinello-Cason, sagging pants is about to become a crime in St. Louis. An ordinance which currently includes nudity, sexual acts and public urination as forms of indecent exposure, could also make it illegal to “wear pants below the waist, which expose skin or undergarments”.
On her blog, BalancingJane.com, Michelle expresses her frustration about the proposed ordinance:
“The Supreme Court has already established that the First Amendment can be applied to clothing, which counts as a valid mode of expression. You may not like baggy pants, but they are a personal clothing choice, and policing personal clothing choices outside of the bounds of public nudity laws … is a violation of First Amendment rights. Indeed, similar bans have already been found unconstitutional in some state courts, and the ACLU has put out a statement on why the issue is important to them. Just because you do not personally like someone’s means of expression does not mean you get to make it illegal.” Continue reading the article on Balancing Jane »
Another St. Louis Alderman, Antonio French, took to Twitter to voice his frustration.
Today a bill was introduced to outlaw "sagging". Would allow young men to be arrested and locked in jail for 3 months. I don't support this.
— Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) June 21, 2013
“I understand where it’s coming from,” he tells the Riverfront Times, “I also get annoyed or a little agitated when I see a young man looking very unpresentable with their pants…almost to their knees,” French continues. “But I don’t think the answer is to criminalize that activity. I don’t think it’s appropriate to criminalize fashion.”
In an article on St. Louis Public Radio, he was also quoted, “It’s another way the city is sending the wrong message to the young black men of the city,” French said. “We need to be embracing this population, offering more opportunities and let them know that they have a partner and a friend, and not this adversarial relationship.”
But the St. Louis Alderman who proposed the changes, Marlene Davis, defends the bill, “No it doesn’t. No it doesn’t, no,” Davis said. “And here’s the reason why: it really got popular in the hip-hop community, and if you look at who spends the most money on hip-hop music, it’s young white males, not black. So no it does not.”
The bill will go to a vote today, in the St. Louis public safety committee.
Many are calling for a halt to the bill, including BalancingJane.com blogger, who corresponded with her local Alderman for answers.
“At the suggestion of my own Alderman, I contacted all 11 representatives on the Public Safety Committee since that is where this bill is currently awaiting its fate. So far, three of them have responded to me. One supported my view. One co-sponsored the bill, but was polite in the correspondence, and the other one resulted in an email exchange that absolutely flabbergasted me.”
What do you think of the bill? Should sagging really be considered a public safety issue?