War on pants flares up E-mail
Written by APB Staff   

There are some things you can just count on. Local law enforcement heroically aiding residents in times of crisis comes to mind. Then there’s the old saying about death and taxes. But if you’ve read American Police Beat for a while you know there’s something else we can count on to the same degree we count on the tide to go out and then come in again - pants laws. You can now get a fine for wearing the wrong pants, or even the right pants in the wrong way after Louisiana town council voted 8-to-1 in favor of a new fashion ordinance.

The Council of Terrebone has brought some comfort to extremely old people everywhere who live in daily terror of baggy pants.

Under the new get tough fashion law, a first offense for "sagging" will get the offender a $50 fine, while a third offense will bring a $100 fine and 16 hours of community service.

The ordinance, which critics say targets a fashion used mostly by young black men, was supported by the Terrebone NAACP president Jerome Boykin:

"There is nothing positive about people wearing saggy pants," Boykin said. "This is not a black issue, this is not a white issue, this is a people issue."

Wearing saggy pants comes from a prison mentality Boykin and others believe.

Some folks contend that fashion is a fickle beast that changes from decade to decade. In fact if you work in an urban area you probably have noticed that baggy pants are out as far as the cool kids are concerned. Kids these days are wearing pants so skinny they look like someone put them on with a paintbrush.

But the urban legends about secret, gay codes used in prison refuse to die.

"Young men who were in prison who wanted to have sex with other men would send a signal to another man with his pants below his waist," The NAACP’s Boykin said.
President Boykin can be forgiven for being a little behind the times. The organization he works for is probably the only outfit that’s still comfortable with the term “colored.”

But even within the NAACP there is disagreement.

The NAACP of Louisiana has sent the parish a letter against the ban, decrying its obvious unconstitutionality according to an article published on Gawker.

"To ban a particular clothing style would violate a liberty interest guaranteed under the 14th Amendment.

The government does not belong in the business of telling people what to wear. Nor does it have the right to use clothing as a pretext to engage in otherwise unlawful stops of innocent people."

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