Shreveport council repeals city’s ban on saggy pants
On Tuesday, Shreveport City Council members repealed the city’s ban on people wearing pants below the waist, thus exposing skin or undergarments.
Councilwoman LeVette Fuller authored the legislation overturning the law against saggy pants.
She had criticized it as being both discriminatory and unconstitutional. The ban also was unnecessary because the city already has laws in place against indecency, Fuller has argued.
The vote was 6-to-1. Councilman James Flurry cast the dissenting vote.
“To me, that symbolizes that we, as a legislative body, see the benefits of having this go away,” Fuller said. “While it may be distasteful, we should not be in the business of legislating taste.”
Flurry said a vast majority of his constituents wanted the ban to stay in place.
"I believe we have a right, not to tell people what they can and can’t wear, but we do have a right to have a community standard of what we expect in our city."
Soon after the meeting got underway Tuesday afternoon, council Chairman Jerry Bowman asked to add an amendment to the agenda.
It would have done away with the fine, leaving community service as the only penalty for violating the ban.
Bowman said he wanted the amendment as an option had the effort to repeal the ban failed.
Before voting, council members heard from several citizens for and against the proposed amendment and the repeal.
After the public comments, council members voted 4-3 against adding Bowman’s amendment to the meeting agenda.
Later in the meeting, the City Council briefly turned its attention to repealing the saggy pants ban.
Assistant public defender Lee Harville asked the city’s administration to advise its prosecutors to immediately halt any pending criminal cases that arose as a result of the ban.
The city’s attorney advised that the repeal will go into effect seven calendar days after Mayor Adrian Perkins signs it, but she will take Harville’s request into consideration if that occurs.
Perkins has expressed his support for the repeal.
And Fuller said citizens still are subject to city indecency laws.
“Private enterprise may still say that certain things are not welcome inside their businesses or inside the walls of even Government Plaza," the councilwoman said.
"But that we are just trying to make sure that we are not creating opportunities or pretext for police to engage with people that might be seen as discriminatory.”
Shreveport outlawed sagging pants in 2007.
The ban allowed city police to stop and possibly arrest someone for wearing such attire.
There have been more than 700 such arrests since the law went into effect.
Those arrested faced fines of $100-$250 and the possibility of having to perform community service.
Then came the death of Anthony Childs.
And renewed criticism that the law discriminates against African-American males and, thus, makes the city vulnerable to being sued.
Fuller has said that the ACLU of Louisiana was prepared to sue if the ban had not been repealed Tuesday.
Police have not said why they stopped Childs in February.
Many people, including Fuller, believe it was because he was wearing sagging pants.
Authorities only have said that Childs, when confronted by an officer, ran.
Then there was gunfire.
The coroner has ruled that the officer’s gunshots did not kill Childs and that Childs fatally shot himself.
During Tuesday’s meeting, members of Childs’ family spoke in favor of repealing the saggy pants ban.
Councilman James Green, who took part in enacting Shreveport’s ban in 2007, apologized to Anthony Childs’ sister.
Five years after Shreveport banned sagging pants, the Caddo Commission passed a similar ordinance 10-1 for all unincorporated areas of the parish.
There’s no immediate word on whether the repeal of Shreveport’s ban will reopen discussions at the parish level.