/ July 21, 2008

Flint Saggy Pants Law Stays the Course

On June 26th, the green police chief of Flint, Michigan announced that the city now has the authority to arrest young men for their sagging pants, labeling the fashion trend indecent exposure and disorderly conduct. A violation can lead to jail time and a hefty fine, although since its inception, the Flint police have only issued warnings. The officers assert that they are committed to spreading word of the new law to make sure that potential offenders are informed.

The move by Chief David Dicks has been a controversial one, sparking both criticism and skepticism from the community and civil rights activists. Some worry that the law will disproportionately target young African American males, while many teenagers argue that it is a valid style choice. One 16 year old states to the Detroit Free Press:

“If I pay for my pants, I should be able to wear them how I want to.”

The ACLU also opposes the ordinance, and issued a letter to the city threatening legal action should it stay on the books. The ACLU deadline has now passed, and Dicks has not relented; it may only be a matter of time until a suit is filed. Gregg Gibbs, an ACLU lawyer in Flint, states that the code is a violation of the 1st Amendment, criminalizing a “style of dress” based on Dicks’ personal preference. But many also oppose the law from a practical standpoint, arguing that it diverts valuable resources and police manpower from tackling the city’s crippling crime rate.

But, Dicks is undeterred:

“Some people call it a fad. But I believe it’s a national nuisance. It is indecent and thus it is indecent exposure, which has been on the books for years.”

How do you feel about the sagging pants phenomenon? Let us know in the comments.

Source: The Detroit Free Press and The Guardian

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