Louisiana Law Makes ‘Saggy Pants’ a Criminal Offense

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A Louisiana law introduced in the parish of Jefferson Davis makes it a crime for people to wear their pants in any way that can be defined by police as “sagging.”

We contacted the police in Jefferson Davis parish, and asked for specifics. They told us “anything that is too low.”

We asked them what “too low” meant. They seemed to be short on answers.

But local police jurors unanimously passed an ordinance which makes it illegal to appear in a public place with pants that are “below the waist” or which expose the “skin” below the waist, or “undergarments.”

If that sounds well-defined to you, you haven’t seen how this plays out in practice.

Citizens of the parish – particularly members of the African American community – tell us that the “waist” is an ill-defined concept that gives the police authority to issue you a citation if your pants are simply sitting loosely on your waist, without a belt.

Even the smallest amount of boxers or briefs sticking above the pants-line can be defined by police as “criminal.”

Police Juror Steve Eastman told local reporters that “saggy pants have been a long-running problem” in the Louisiana parish.

“I had complaints from security guards around the courthouse that there was issues with people not being respectfully dressed in the courtroom area,” he said in an interview with local KPLC.

“So initially I was going to be for on the courthouse grounds, and the other jurors felt that it was important parish-wide.”

Juror Bryon Buller suggested that they take things even further and prohibit any visibility of undergarments in public. So if even one centimeter of an undergarment comes above the waistline on your pants, you are now a criminal in the parish.

This could result in a $50 fine for the first offense followed by a $100 fine for every subsequent violation, according to the American Press.

Wearing sagging pants as a trend is thought to have originated in prison, where inmates are not allowed to wear belts.

President Barack Obama said “Brothers should pull up their pants. You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. What’s wrong with that? Come on. Some people might not want to see your underwear. I’m one of them.”

But now, communities around the country, such as Wildwood, New Jersey; Cocoa, Florida; and now Jefferson Davis, Louisiana have made the fashion statement a criminal act. They aren’t alone in Louisiana, where  municipalities, including Merryville, Kinder, Elton, Welsh and Opelousas, passed similar measures.

But Civil Liberties groups claim such a ban is unconstitutional and against the protections of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees that no citizen should be deprived of “life, liberty or property.” Whatever you think about the trend, wearing your pants how you want to wear them – particularly when your body is still covered by an undergarment – would appear to be a matter of personal choice and liberty, wouldn’t you think?

(Article by Jackson Marciana)

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