Anyone who wears pants below the waist that expose underwear, or what police determine to be too much skin, in public, will soon face a $50 fine for a first offense in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. A second offense will cost $100, and third and subsequent offenses will carry a $100 fine and 16 hours of community service, reports WWL TV.
“Appearing in public view while exposing one’s skin or undergarments below the waist is contrary to safety, health, peace and good order of the parish and the general welfare,” the ordinance says. The ordinance also specifies that "violating the law does not give police the authority to arrest violators or do a 'full search'.”
Council members voted 8-1 to send the ban to Parish President Michel Claudet, who is expected to sign it into law. The council heard arguments from residents in a public hearing before the vote.
Jerome Boykin, president of the Terrebonne NAACP, expressed support. “There is nothing positive about people wearing saggy pants,” Boykin said. “This is not a black issue, this is not a white issue, this is a people issue.”
“It’s certainly not the first time elders complained about the social mores and dress habits of young people,” resident Ida Moore said. “But to make laws of governing social differences is a slippery slope to the level of government that we do not allow.”
Council Vice Chairman Russell Hornsby said the law sends a message that so-called deviant behavior will not be tolerated. Hornsby also noted that Houma Police Chief Todd Duplantis and Terrebonne Sheriff Jerry Larpenter agree with the ordinance.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana sent a letter to the council explaining that the ordinance is unconstitutional and urging them not to pass it. “To ban a particular clothing style would violate a liberty interest guaranteed under the 14th Amendment,” the letter says.