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Pants Sagging Ban? Really?

It will soon be illegal for residents of one Louisiana town to wear saggy pants after the city council passed an ordinance banning the trend last week.

Residents of Terrebonne Parish in southern Louisiana could face a series of fines and community service if they violate the ban, which the council approved 8-1 Wednesday night. The council president is expected to sign the measure into law.

“Appearing in public view while exposing one’s skin or undergarments below the waist is contrary to safety, health, peace, and good order of the parish and the general welfare,” the ordinance reads.

The fine is $50 for a first offense, $100 for a second, and $100 plus 16 hours of community service for the third and any subsequent offenses, according to New Orleans’

Residents turned out Wednesday to debate the ordinance before the council voted. Jerome Boykin, president of the Terrebonne NAACP, expressed his support for the ban, and explained the origins of saggy pants stem from prison mentality.
“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,” he said. “There is nothing positive about people wearing saggy pants. This is not a black issue, this is not a white issue, this is a people issue.”

Others felt the ordinance posed a threat to freedom of expression. The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana sent a letter to the council calling the ban unconstitutional.

“To ban a particular clothing style would violate a liberty interest guaranteed under the 14th Amendment,” the letter reads. “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.”

This isn’t the first time governments have ruled on saggy pants. The style’s been banned in Chicago schools, a town in Georgia has collected fines for the offense, and campaigns have been launched against the trend in various other cities.

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