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Sagging Ban in St. Louis: Alderwoman Pushes to Outlaw Pants Below Waist, Says "Out of Control"

sagging-image.jpg
via brianDhawkins
Is it time to outlaw exposed butts and underwear in the city of St. Louis?

That's a question Alderwoman Marlene Davis is raising tonight with a "community discussion" on her controversial proposal to ban saggy pants in the city.

To Davis, it's a no-brainer. "This is not a style," she tells Daily RFT. "This is an absolutely vulgar display of disrespect not only to every other human being that has to look at it but also to themselves.... It's totally out of control."

At the sagging forum tonight, local elected officials will debate the issue alongside an academic, a hip-hop artist and others.

See also:
- Alderwoman Wants To Ban Sagging, End Unsightly Exposure Of "Undergarments"
- Antonio French Slams Saggy Pants Ban Bill, Says Wrong To "Criminalize Fashion"
- Mother Launches Clothing Line to Let People "Sag" with Dignity

The community discussion on sagging is scheduled today from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the William Harrison Education Center (3140 Cass Avenue). A second one will take place on Tuesday, August 20, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Long Middle School (5028 Morganford Road).

sagging-flyer-1.jpg
Board of Aldermen

Davis got a lot of attention when she first introduced her Board of Aldermen bill in June. Her proposal is to revise already existing laws prohibiting "lewd" behavior to include:

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....

"All I did was enhance the bill we already had," she says. "I just made it clear."

The proposal sparked backlash from some of her colleagues and others who argue that it violates basic First Amendment rights to regulate fashion in this manner. Some argue it will lead to unnecessary arrests and fines and further exacerbate tensions between police and young black men who do not deserve to be scrutinized for this.

If signed into law, violations could result in fines up to $500 and even up to 90 days in jail.

"Primarily for me, it's not so much that I want to penalize anybody and force jail time," Davis says. "Sometimes, I think it's required that we legislate society into a norm."

She continues, "I believe everybody should have their own ideas about what they look like or what their style is.... but this has gone to such an extreme. It's not fair to us trying to have a civilized society."

Davis has not introduced a proposal like this before and says no one at the board of alderman has in a long time.

"One day, it hit me," she says. "I just was getting out of my car...and saw a group of young men walking, and I'm telling you, it was just disgraceful. I decided I've got to do something."

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Board of Aldermen flyer

She says sagging is detrimental to those who choose to wear their pants this way.

"These young people don't realize they now put themselves in another category of obsolete," she says. "They are not considered for anything. They think it's OK to go anywhere dressed like that. They show up to a job interview, and it's going to cost them the job. They show up to school and they get reprimanded. I've seen them at churches and funerals like this. It's common."

In response to those arguing the bill may violate civil liberties, she says, people do not "have the right to show me your butt every day." And she argues that individuals who wear saggy pants would be better off in the long run if they did not.

She says jail time would be a last resort and only in extreme situations -- if an individual repeatedly doesn't pay fines or fights back when an officer is talking to them, for example.

"I would rather keep the penalty low," she says.

In defending her bill, she cites efforts through legislation to curb drunk-driving or encourage the use of seat belts and car seats.

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Photo by Keegan Hamilton
Yung Ro, hip-hop artist and panelist tonight.

"We had to protect ourselves and do better for society," she says, adding, "Can you imagine what people think about us who come here visiting from another country? I mean, c'mon!"

When the board of aldermen reconvenes in September, the proposal will still be in the public safety committee, but Davis says she is hopeful it can advance from there.

The main concern she has heard from colleagues, she says, is "they just didn't want to end up putting more young people into the penal system.... I don't believe that's going to be the case here."

The panel discussion tonight will be moderated by Dr. Christi Griffin and will include Davis as a panelist alongside Michael Butler, a state representative, Norman White, a Saint Louis University associate professor of sociology and criminal justice, and Yung Ro, a hip-hop artist.

Davis adds of her proposal, "I believe it's one of those things that can help us improve the landscape of the city of St. Louis so it can really be a true metropolitan town and everyone has an opportunity to excel."

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



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179 comments
Paul Howell
Paul Howell

Unless they are an underwear model, pull up the pants.

Whit Movesian
Whit Movesian

I grew up in the ghetto. Exactly what does it mean? I hear bs about gangs but it's not true. It's the left or right pant leg being pulled up, not sagging.

Sheila Moseley
Sheila Moseley

In Dallas it is a $500 fine the first time.... caught sagging...... for me it is not about seeing someones ass it is about what sagging represents .... and the younger kids do it not knowing what it really means .... just something to ponder on.....

Mindy Brown Carney
Mindy Brown Carney

That makes more sense, Kristina - because the pants are just in the way and make them walk funny. But I personally would like my alderpeople to focus on more important issues - like infrastructure and schools.

Lisa Apple
Lisa Apple

Don't bother me - everything's covered - I think men should have to wear shirts though...

Marilyn Mueller Collicott
Marilyn Mueller Collicott

Slippery slope folks - be careful what you think is ok to ban - something you like could be next based on someone else's opinion.......think about it

Brandy Vogt
Brandy Vogt

Just pull up your damn pants man! Fashion tip: A belt is used for keeping your pants up around your waste.

Das ÜberCool
Das ÜberCool

That's just giving the local militia more excuses to stop people.

Das ÜberCool
Das ÜberCool

I don't want to see people in a Nazi or KKK shirt, but it's their right as an American. We don't see any skin, so it's no different from wearing any other clothing.

Das ÜberCool
Das ÜberCool

They aren't showing flesh, so it should be just as legal as a swimsuit. I think they look like complete buffoons, but that's their right.

Stew Goldman
Stew Goldman

No ban! Some people need an incentive to do their laundry. It be so on-gangster to see poop stains.

Kevin Rudroff
Kevin Rudroff

Unfortunately things like this are considered and debated because people don't have the decency or respect to even cover their ass up in places like Chuckee Cheeses for fuck sakes

Joe Staat
Joe Staat

Anyone that dresses like this looks like an idiot. Idc if they ban it or not. When I'm out w/my kids it just allows me to show them what stupid looks like in person. And to the oppress black males comment?!?!?! I mean really? Anyone who dresses like that is oppressing themselves ... Black or white! Get a clue.

Whit Movesian
Whit Movesian

In order for it to be indecent exposure, you have to see testicles, penis, buttocks, breasts, or vagina. Go ahead. Seeing as how all I've ever seen is boxers, it's not indecent exposure. I've seen more skin exposed at family friendly water parks.

Whit Movesian
Whit Movesian

If boxers are indecent, then they have to move the entire underwear section at wal mart to Dr. John's.

Jessica Ruhlin
Jessica Ruhlin

there isn't a law against obesity. There is however, a law against indecent exposure. I guess the question is, what is really indecent?

Susie Qty B
Susie Qty B

MY take is YOU people will do anything to oppress and incarcerate BLACK MALES!

Eduardo Benavides
Eduardo Benavides

standars,,, // ??? Really,, Teach them ,,, Never Judges nobody,,,

Eduardo Benavides
Eduardo Benavides

Arfer reading all the posts.. Saint Louis need more Court's ,because Judges wiil have many,,,

Whit Movesian
Whit Movesian

I just looked up Marlene Davis on the internet, and if she gets to ban sagging, then I think we should get to ban her from eating any more cheeseburgers.

Debbie Lore
Debbie Lore

They may as well, next thing you know, they will want to go naked.

Debbie Lore
Debbie Lore

I don't want my little grand-daughters to see a man dressed like that. That's nasty. We have lowered our standards.

Anne Elizabeth Ruhr
Anne Elizabeth Ruhr

You're an idiot. We take in everything around us as we drive and walk whether we want to see what's there or not. It's biology.

Debbie Lore
Debbie Lore

He better not dress like that if he ever goes to prison... he will make it real easy for Bubba.

grandhighjman
grandhighjman

"Davis has not introduced a proposal like this before and says no one at the board of alderman has in a long time." 

Didn't Jennifer Florida propose something like this about a year ago, but changed her mind on the grounds of it's a stupid idea?

Whit Movesian
Whit Movesian

Then don't look. Nobody is forcing you to look at someone's underwear.

Jay Brandt
Jay Brandt

Forget a ban...but we can stop this in one week...just get a bunch of old white guys (like me) to walk around with our pants down for a week and it will become so uncool that no one will want to be caught with their pants down again. It works with my kids on annoying language/word usage...once I start using the word or phrase it's gone in no time.

Nick Scydick
Nick Scydick

I like that people are free to sag, it helps me decide who not to ever consider hiring.

Anne Elizabeth Ruhr
Anne Elizabeth Ruhr

If women walked around with full panties showing, there would be an uproar - because it is inappropriate!! This should be BANNED too. So wake up people - I DON'T WANT TO LOOK AT YOUR UNDERWEAR.

Bryce Steinhoff
Bryce Steinhoff

Some people defend freedom, and some people think using the government's guns to enforce their preferences is valid. It's not - it's violent.

Lin Staum
Lin Staum

How about just ticketing some people for indecent exposure?

Jeff Tindell
Jeff Tindell

When you run with trivial issues, the real issues get left behind in the dust.

Mike E. Moses
Mike E. Moses

worry about the other shit wrong with our fuckin state

Mike E. Moses
Mike E. Moses

lets see how.many pple get pissed when they bban woman from.showing there cleavage tto.much and let all the racist idiots speak there.mind about banning sagged pants.

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

If women are allowed to wear thongs at public beaches and pools men should be allowed to sag their pants in public.

Elmo Farquar
Elmo Farquar

Anyone have any idea where we are going to get the funds for the "etiquette police" from? :-\

Mindy Brown Carney
Mindy Brown Carney

I find it one of the most ridiculous "fashion statements" a human could make - it looks stupid and obnoxious. But we do NOT need to waste our resources policing peoples' pants.

David Clarke
David Clarke

This was a trend that was supposed to come to an eventual end. I understand why people are getting tired of it at this point.

Sade Donovan
Sade Donovan

My kids wouls get thier assea kicked if thwy wven tried to dress like that

Jimmie Thomptson
Jimmie Thomptson

it's disrespectfull, so I have no respect for those that show their asses, but banning won't work. try educating, maybe a class is self respect

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