A community group based in North Lawndale on Chicago’s West Side hopes to amend the city’s indecent exposure law to make the wearing of saggy pants illegal.
According to Fox Chicago, Empowered Citizens of North Lawndale (ECONL) hopes that the City Council will join some Chicago area villages, including Lynwood and Sauk Village, in outlawing the wearing of pants that hang more than four inches down from your hip. Violating the law, they say, should carry a fine of up to $200.
The group argues, “yes, people have the right to dress and wear whatever he or she chooses, but it should not be offensive to the public at large … In his address to the ‘saggy pants’ and uneducated boys on the corner Bill Cosby said, ‘We, as black folks, have to do a better job,’ he stated. We have to start holding each other to a higher standard.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has decried the disproportionate racial impact such a law could have on African American men in particular. Individuals should be allowed to “wear what they choose and know they will be judged by the ‘content of their character’ and not by their choice of clothing.”
The NAACP, too, has described such laws as inviting racial profiling and violating free speech, NBC Chicago reports.
In addition to suburban Lynwood and Sauk Village, Evanston has also considered outlawing the wearing of saggy pants to the tune of fines as high as $750. Dating back to 2004, Louisiana and Virginia both attempted to pass statewide baggy pants laws.
In western Illinois this summer, the city council in Collinsville, located about 20 miles east of St. Louis, Mo., approved a baggy pants law because they were tired of “looking at people’s underwear.”
In 2008, a Florida judge ruled that a Riviera Beach, Fla., city ban on saggy pants, the violation of which resulted in one 17-year-old being jailed for a night, was unconstitutional.