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St. Louis Saggy Pants Ban: Antonio French Slams Bill, Says Wrong To "Criminalize Fashion"

Thumbnail image for Antonio French image.jpeg
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Antonio French.
On Friday, St. Louis alderwoman Marlene Davis introduced a bill to ban saggy pants in the city that could potentially result in hefty fines and even jail time for offenders. Since news broke about her proposal, there has already been backlash, including from some of her colleagues who say it's an inappropriate law that would waste police resources -- and possibly be unconstitutional.

Daily RFT since had a chance to speak with alderman Antonio French, one of the critics who immediately tweeted his disdain for the idea.

"I understand where it's coming from. I also get annoyed or a little agitated when I see a young man looking very unpresentable with their pants...almost to their knees," French tells us. "But I don't think the answer is to criminalize that activity. I don't think it's appropriate to criminalize fashion."

See also:
- Alderwoman Wants To Ban Sagging, End Unsightly Exposure Of "Undergarments"
- Mother Launches Clothing Line to Let People "Sag" with Dignity
- Bill To Outlaw Nudity in Missouri Strip Clubs Passes Senate

Some civil rights activists have argued that it is unconstitutional to pass a law that regulates how individuals dress and makes a certain style illegal.

As written, the bill says that prohibited "lewd" behavior includes:

Any person to appear in a public place wearing pants below the waist which exposes the skin or undergarments which is likely to cause affront or alarm...

French, who has been vocal about crime reduction efforts in the 21st ward, says that a bill like this would only further criminalize young, black men, who need support from the city -- not increased arrests.

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"Most people would agree this targets black males," he says. "When you already have a group of young men dealing with all kinds of issues in our city...repeatedly seeing examples of lack of support throughout our city...I don't think this is the way to go."

He continues, "It has a lot to do with generational conflict. It's nothing new.... I think that thirty years ago, older generations were not comfortable with younger people wearing longer hair or women not wearing bras."

He jokes that in this case the city could also call it "the plumber law," since in theory it could impact anyone whose pants sag too low.

French says that while a proposal like this aims to send a message, it could have very serious negative consequences.

"It is particularly the fines and the weight of the penalties that most people should be offended by," French says. "A 500-dollar fine for a young man or three months in jail because of their pants?"

As introduced, the bill stipulates that individuals caught violating the ban on saggy pants could be fined anywhere from 100 to 500 dollars and could face imprisonment for up to 90 days.

Plus, he says, "There are definitely some constitutional issues."

French also points to studies that show how police stop and search black men at disproportionately high rates in Missouri.

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"Now all of the sudden, it would make how I wear my pants probable cause?" he says.

French notes that the board of aldermen also just passed a law to reform marijuana criminalization in the city such that the most minor offenses will be treated like traffic tickets -- in an effort to save limited police resources.

"Now, we are raising the bar on saggy pants?" he says.

Most would probably agree that this is not the best use of law enforcement resources, French argues.

"Even people who feel strongly about this issue and are greatly offended by the way young people dress would also argue that this is in no way a top priority for the people in the city of St. Louis right now, especially the police department," French says.

Davis, the bill's proponent, did not respond to requests for comment from Daily RFT on Friday.

Here's the draf of the bill, with the sagging component in bold:

Board Bill 117

What do you think?

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.


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67 comments
Machinehead13
Machinehead13

It is IMMORAL to use government force to dictate how people dress.  Think about it people, you want money taken by threat of force in the form of taxes, so you can afford to use yet more force to coerce people into wearing a style of which you "approve".

Yes, it is a style.  Many (including myself) find it distasteful, but if millions of people believe it to be a style, it is.  Millions of people do believe it is a style, deal with it.  The same arguments were made at one time about women wearing a skirt that exposed their knees.

Some people love to talk about how they live in the "the land of the free", yet they are willing to step on others' freedoms simply because it is convenient to them.

Harva Kennedy
Harva Kennedy

I am sick of seeing their nasty drawers. It's time to show some self respect and respect for others. Harva

Twmoui Guess
Twmoui Guess

I support this entirely. To be honest you do not see people who are trying to better their lives through productive and legal means wearing their pants below their asses. You see thugs, wanna be gangbangers, actual gangbangers, drug dealers, and other people of criminal activity wearing their pants like this. Because a barrel ful of bad apples continue to proceed with this so called fashion statement, its hard to not persecute those that are trying to follow in the footsteps of the "fashion"

Michael Mytzlplyk
Michael Mytzlplyk

That is not fashion. That is stupidity. And if a cop is going to harass you, Ed, they will just make up something. Otherwise, they are doing their job which is to enforce the law.

Tiz Nicity
Tiz Nicity

Pull up your fucking pants people!!!!! It's ridiculous that you have a belt on too! It's not there for show it serves a purpose. Fuckin Hoosier ass people

Timothy McGarity
Timothy McGarity

I support the issue but not the punishment. I dont see it being enforced anyway.

Judith Kay Barry
Judith Kay Barry

Don't waste our money on this. What's the difference between big cleavage on top or bottom! Stupid to even try to stop the prison I'm ready for sex ban!

Savage Sun
Savage Sun

I made an error in clarifying in my first post that a $500 fine or jail time is absolutely unreasonable, but a smaller fine makes sense to me. I was speaking just to the second statement of supporting a ban on saggy pants.

Savage Sun
Savage Sun

So what would you suggest, if not a rule of law that governs people's behavior? Pure anarchy? At least some argument is better than just blaming cops for everything, Lol.

Wendy Ingalls Forbes
Wendy Ingalls Forbes

Ed- Bless your heart. You sound ridiculous, that doesn't deserve a response. I don't know one person who likes to argue with an old brick wall. Good night.

Ed Wesley
Ed Wesley

see if you can get both feet in your mouth.

Ed Wesley
Ed Wesley

what do I tell my kids? looks like you got beat by your own argument. ha haaa! *points*

Darrell Ford
Darrell Ford

fine em' and throw em' in jail...OR they can dress without showing their ass and avoid the whole issue.

dford69
dford69

It's really quite simple, don't wear your pants with your ass hanging out and you have nothing to worry about. calling it a "fashion" thing is insane, it isn't EVER fashionable to expose your nasty ass underwear, regardless of your race. I see a lot of white wannabes doing the same thing and it looks just as ridiculous.

Ray Thomas
Ray Thomas

not racist what so ever........just an observation,,evidently sir, you know not what a racist is

Jason David Pelker
Jason David Pelker

Check the first amendment, dummies. This law will last about 10 minutes. I love that the only bills that get passed in Missouri are either racially or religiously motivated.

Wendy Ingalls Forbes
Wendy Ingalls Forbes

Wow Ed Wesley! Way to attack anything and everything you can possibly pick out. I applaud you for your dumb immaturity. The day my kids are old enough to get on Facebook is the day they will be old enough to have their own opinions about things. If you didn't read all of my comments above, I clearly stated in my opinion there is an appropriate place and time for everything and wearing your damn under garments and private areas showing is not appropriate in public. If my best friend would like to give me a kiss on my cheek and we make a fun photo is not what this conversation is about now is it?? How about you stay on topic and stop trying to start mess. Geeze...... If we are attacking profile pics that's a whole different story that I'm not gonna partake in:-) I appreciate your concern sir.

Ed Wesley
Ed Wesley

nothing racist here, move along!

Joe R French
Joe R French

It makes me sick I share the same last name as this guy!

Chloe Adrienne DelosSantos
Chloe Adrienne DelosSantos

nooo dont fine them it would take away the handy sign that prevents me from speaking to them and quite frankly as alot of people mentioned whats one more thing to burn our retinas -wheres the line? For me its flesh thanx.

Ed Wesley
Ed Wesley

tell them the same thing you tell them when they see two women kissing on your fb profile pic, people express themselves in different ways. next stumper!

Matt Ferch
Matt Ferch

Good, pull up your damn pants up morons

Ed Wesley
Ed Wesley

here comes the slippery slope argument.

Marshall Patrick
Marshall Patrick

that's it make the public pay for them while they sit in jail

Randi Cory
Randi Cory

Great. I hate sagging and hate when im FORCED to see people asses. If I caught my son doing this id buy him elastic pants.

Andee Rose Shymama Gagliano
Andee Rose Shymama Gagliano

if girls were out saggin or wearin their undergarments out liek that. it'd be indecent exposure, so why are dudes allowed to walk around w/ their undies out?

Joyce Short Henderson
Joyce Short Henderson

I am ALLLLLLLLL for it! Any town, any state..........ban them stupid saggy, a$$ hangin pants!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ed Wesley
Ed Wesley

thank you! see Matt, you are a racist. ROFLMAO!

Ray Thomas
Ray Thomas

saggin is just niggas spelled backwards

Savage Sun
Savage Sun

I support it because most people who do this show their underwear or ass in public. Our society needs a code of conduct & decency so that people feel safe. This kind of behavior not only angers many people but creates a sense of hopelessness, makes people feel unsafe, uninspired & breaks down community cohesion. This is why we have public dress codes, because society needs rules to reinforce communal respect. People in public should not have to look at someone else's ass or underwear when they go out. If you don't set an established, agreed upon rule about what is & is not decent, then how can you enforce any rule of law? Who is to say that walking the streets naked is not appropriate?

Philip Nations
Philip Nations

This is absolutely the dumbest thing I have ever read in my entire life. And I read a lot. The alderwoman who proposed this bill is BLACK so I struggle to see how this bill is race warfare. It is class warfare. But do you think the people who sag their pants CARE ANYTHING ABOUT A FINE? Hahah! Are you serious? This bill will never pass. It's an extreme bill some random alderwoman wrote up! White people stop throwing around the word racist like its trendy. RFT stop feeding this mob. You guys are getting more like a tabloid every single day.

Luke Valleroy
Luke Valleroy

I don't want to see two dudes making out at the mall either, but it's something we have to live with isn't it.. Their underwear is showing, get over it. Anyways it just makes some of the dipshits out there easier to point out. How is this even a topic of converstion? Going to jail for sagging pants? GTFO

Joe Staat
Joe Staat

I don't think it's about "saggy" pants, as compared to people's asses hanging out. Regardless, I don't want to see it. But, I also don't want to see fat ladies in tube tops & nobodies banning that. So, to put it simply it's racist or a cultural difference issue, since caucasians do it as well. It'd be like banning people from having visible tattoos or making ugly people stay inside. It's a dumb law & the time spent on such nonsense is a waste of our tax money!

Wendy Ingalls Forbes
Wendy Ingalls Forbes

I agree with the bra straps statement Brian, I feel that's inappropriate also but then that all goes back to swimsuits and so on the list is endless.... I think there's a time and appropriate place for every outfit lol but please keep your underwear and bras covered is my point. Your private areas are called private for a reason and my personal opinion is that underwear and bras fall into those categories. I definitely don't judge people on the way they dress however. It doesn't automatically make them bad individuals. Just a bad choice in my opinion but that's one of the freedoms we have here lol

Aaron Wilbers
Aaron Wilbers

overflowing court and prison system...yet lets get more people in there for how they wear their clothes! I don't know if its really racist since I see white kids with their pants hanging down all the time, but its definitely stupid and a waste of police time and resources. But it will let cops write more tickets...

Karen Trifonoff
Karen Trifonoff

Personal businesses can call the rules. I encourage them to make the rules. It is disgustingly dirty in a restaurant. I am surprised the health department does not step in.

Debbie Luke
Debbie Luke

As much as I laugh at these children-I really don't think we will make them better citizens if we ban this. Our cops have way too much to deal with than this..

Ed Wesley
Ed Wesley

its free speech, teabaggers dont know anything about the constitution though.

Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd

And what's the difference between boxers and short? What about an undershirt? Ribbed tank tops? Why can I see so many women's bra straps?

Lynn Pevey
Lynn Pevey

3 months in jail?? That's harsh and our prison system is already overflowing...now you want to add this to the mix?? Dumbasses!

Wendy Ingalls Forbes
Wendy Ingalls Forbes

I'm all for everyone's own individual fashion sense but when I bring my children out in public places I should not be fielding questions about why someone's underwear is showing. This also means I don't feel I should have to field questions on why someone is only wearing their bra at the store or why someone is wearing their underwear(way short shorts) etc.... I don't think someone should go to jail over this but ticket possibly! As well as all the other inappropriate things being worn in public. I just feel that people should respect themselves more and set a good example:-) $500 seems a little outrageous for a fine, $25 sounds more reasonable. however, to each their own I guess.

Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd

What if my pants sag and I'm wearing a Speedo?

Jay Vines
Jay Vines

Its obscene! Who wants to see somebodys ass hanging out??

Lanie Dattilo
Lanie Dattilo

But in some cases the pants are so low you can see all of the boxers, or A LOT more. And that's inappropriate. So perhaps this should be a case of what is decent.

Ed Wesley
Ed Wesley

Racism abounds in your comments Matt. That sucks and so do you.

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