Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sagging Pants Ban Is Sought; St. Louis Alderman Wants Fines Up to $500 and Jail Time

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sagging Pants Ban Is Sought; St. Louis Alderman Wants Fines Up to $500 and Jail Time

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * One city alderman wants to make sure she doesn't see your underwear.

Sagging pants, a fashion mainstay on St. Louis' streets that can expose skin or underwear, may soon come with a fine. Alderman Marlene Davis, of the 19th Ward, saying she's tired of seeing the low-slung trousers, has proposed legislation that would ban people in public from wearing "pants below the waist which exposes the skin or undergarments which is likely to cause affront or alarm."

The bill, which seeks to add sagging pants to existing bans on indecent or lewd acts, had its first reading on Friday.

"We should have respect for our citizens," Davis said in an interview. "It's not fair for us to have to look at that."

Davis, who represents the area around Grand Center, said she will cite evidence that the fashion is not only a lewd act, but also a health concern, saying it causes problems with the back and spine.

If the measure is approved, Davis said St. Louis would be the largest city in the country to adopt such a ban.

It appears she will have opposition in that effort.

Alderman Antonio French, 21st Ward, said he doesn't support the idea. On Twitter, he declared: "The City of St. Louis needs to do more to support young black men, not further criminalize them."

Under the proposed legislation, a violation would include a fine ranging between $100 and $500, or up to 90 days in jail.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Francis Slay said the mayor had not read the legislation and had no immediate comment.

Sagging pants is a fashion that was born in prison, where oversized uniforms were issued without belts to prevent their use as weapons and for suicide. The trend took off in the 1990s with the general public, largely fueled by hip-hop artists. Today, it is common in both black and white communities to see men with pants cinched below their buttocks with exposed underwear.

In recent years, municipalities have instituted similar bans on sagging pants, including Pine Lawn and Collinsville, where they remain in effect. The measures have been controversial, with some civil rights groups saying they restrict personal expression. …

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