Florida Town Drops Ordinance Against Sagging Pants, Saying It Targets Black Men

Florida Town Drops Ordinance Against Sagging Pants, Saying It Targets Black Men

Opa-locka, Fla., instituted the ban in 2007, but leaders have always questioned the racism behind the law.

Published September 15th

Written by BET Staff

A controversial 13-year-old ban on sagging pants in a Florida town has been repealed because it disproportionately targeted African American men, city officials say. The Opa-locka, Fla., ordinance, originally passed in 2007, was voted down 4-1 by the City Commission, according to the Miami Herald. The legislation had stated men could not wear pants that exposed their underwear in city parks and buildings, with a citation as punishment for violation. A similar law was passed for women in 2013, but now both are expected to be overturned after a subsequent commission meeting.

“I was never in support of it, even as a resident,” Vice Mayor Chris Davis, the repeal’s sponsor, told the Herald. “I felt it disproportionately affected a certain segment of our population, which is young, African-American men.”

The law garnered controversy over its constitutionality and garnered nationwide debate at the time it was passed. Over the course of the 2000s, governments and businesses created policies against the style that met with objection. Some places, like Shreveport, La., acquiesced with a repeal of their ordinance in 2019.

In Opa-locka, signs were posted throughout the town warning that sagging pants violated the city ordinance, which said: “No ifs, ands or butts ... It’s the city law!”

But the current city administration objects to the signs and now want them gone.

“The signs should get taken down,” Mayor Matthew Pigatt said during a virtual city commission meeting last Wednesday (Sept. 9). “It’s long overdue and they need to go. They’re an eyesore in the city.”

The lone holdout in the city commission vote was Commissioner Alvin Burke, who said the ordinance was never intended “to target our young black men, but to uplift our young black men.”

Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images


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