The Opa-locka City Commission voted this week to throw out a 13-year ban on clothing that exposes the underwear of men and women

By Jason Duaine Hahn
September 14, 2020 05:23 PM
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A South Florida city has reversed a ban on men and women wearing "saggy pants" that reveal their underwear after critics said it disproportionately targeted Black men.

On Wednesday, the Opa-locka City Commission voted to end a 2007 resolution and 2013 ordinance that allowed authorities to hand out civil citations to people wearing pants that showed their boxer shorts or other undergarments, according to CNN.

"I was never in support of it, even as a resident," Vice Mayor Chris Davis, who sponsored the repeal, told the Miami Herald. "I felt it disproportionately affected a certain segment of our population, which is young, African-American men."

While there's one more vote left before the repeal is made official, it's widely thought to pass since four of five of the city's commissioners co-sponsored it, the newspaper reported.

The 2007 resolution initially stated men could be cited for wearing sagging pants in city buildings and parks, while the 2013 ordinance made changes to include women and pubic spaces, CNN said. It also expanded the law to include a fine of up to $500.

"Since its inception, this law disproportionately affected certain segments of our population, including Black and brown men and women," the city explained in a statement, according to the outlet.

Young men wearing sagging pants
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty

"The Commission agreed to repeal the law opting for a less aggressive approach of educating our constituents to encourage proper dress," the statement continued.

The Miami Herald's report on the repeal included a photograph of one of the signs that were placed around the city after the ordinance was passed. It shows two Black males with sagging pants, with the message, "No 'Ifs, Ands or Butts..." written at the top.

"The signs should get taken down," Mayor Matthew Pigatt told viewers of the signs during a virtual meeting. "It’s long overdue and they need to go. They’re an eyesore in the city."

Vice Mayor Chris Davis told CNN said the law could seem "predatory" since Opa-locka's population is predominately African American and Hispanic.

"When you pass laws like that, they can seem predatory if not carefully implemented," he said.

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The only city commissioner to vote against the repeal was 66-year-old Alvin Burke, who said the law was meant to "uplift our young Black men," and not target them, the Miami Herald reported.

But, as the newspaper notes, the decision to repeal the law comes as the country copes with issues of systemic racism and police brutality that has led to ongoing protests since May. The city was partly inspired to remove the law thanks to these social justice movements.

"What better climate to do it in than the one that’s going on around the country centered on police reform," Davis said, according to the Miami Herald, "and just looking at ways that we can make our public services more equitable."

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

• ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.