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Stand Room Only Crowd For Hinds County Saggy Pants ban

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 06 Aug 2012 04:17pm | comments
Saggy pants supporters and opponents protest side by side.

Hinds County could become the latest, and largest, governmental body in Mississippi to ban saggy pant. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that Hinds County Supervisors are considering a saggy pant ban.

Outside the Hinds County Chancery courthouse, supporters and opponents of a saggy pants ban marched side by side.

Carrying a sign reading 'no nudity in public pull em up', Tony Williams says the saggy pants style is holding back young black men, who most commonly wear those pants.

"They are instantly stereotyped in the eyes of those who see them. They don't know if they are whether they are drug dealers. Drug smokers. Gangsters. Gang members. because this is negative way of dressing and you are dressing for failure," Williams said.

But the proposed ban has drawn push back from civil liberties groups and some young people.

ACLU legal director Bear Atwood says the ban is an unconstitutional violation of freedom of speech.

"The whole purpose of our constitution is to protect unpopular but legal behavior. Yeah, it may be unpopular but it is unconstitutional to ban it," Atwood said.

A number of other Mississippi cities already have bans on saggy pants typically involving fines for people who wear their pants three inches below the waist and expose skin or underwear.

The Hinds County version is still being drafted but Supervisor Kenneth Stokes, who is spearheading the issue, says it could include 5-to-10-dollar fines or community service.

Most of the protestors flooded into the Hinds County Supervisors meeting to speak in a public hearing about the proposal.

Before the hearing, Stokes told the standing-room only crowd the ban is intended to help young people find work.

"Everyone needs to tell these young people that no one is going to hire you with your pants hanging down. And for those who say 'well, I don't care if they hire me or not' those are the ones who are going to see, in most cases, the jail cells of sheriff Tyrone Lewis," Stokes said.

The supervisors will vote on the ordinance at their next meeting later this month....The ACLU is threatening to sue if it is approved.

A ban in Hinds County would bring nearly 250-thousand more Mississippians under some kind of saggy pants prohibition.



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