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Councilman wants ban on saggy pants

September 22, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
They want to call the fashion police. A Southland city is taking on saggy pants. Officials say wearing low-riding pants that show too much skin or underwear amounts to indecent exposure. A Gardena councilman wants the city to approve a resolution against wearing saggy pants. He says saggy-pants wearers are sending the wrong message and hurting their chances for success.

It is a very popular way of dressing, but when it goes to extremes, some parents here say there ought to be a law. Gardena City Councilman Steve Bradford has backed off a plan for an outright ban on the sagging pants.

It's a look that takes careful assembly.

Sagging pants and exposed underwear are more than a fashion statement, they could send the wrong message to police and to gang members. Gardena City Councilman Steve Bradford wants a resolution passed that will draw a line.

"We truly are not looking for law enforcement to arrest folks for this. This is not an arrestable offense, but we would like a notice of violation, some type of citation, just even engagement and discussion with young folks to say, 'Do you really think this is appropriate dress?'" said Councilman Bradford.

Rap stars like T.I. and Kanye West help popularize the look. Councilman Bradford notes though that when West met Barack Obama at the Democratic Convention, West was in a suit.

"If you are not going platinum, you're not making millions of dollars doing this, then why dress like this?" said Councilman Bradford.

Young people say critics have it all wrong.

"It is a young kid's style right now. Grown men, we don't really sag like that anymore," said Gardena resident William Burnett. "On a real job interview or business or job or school, I don't sag like that."

Bans have been imposed in many cities across the U.S., even leading to an arrest in Florida, until a judge called the ban unconstitutional.

The ACLU calls the Gardena proposal stupid. In a very blunt statement, a lead attorney said:

"To apply this equally, they would need to address every plumber whose butt crack shows and every overweight person whose pants sag down and expose some skin because of a paunch," wrote Peter Eliasberg, ACLU of Southern California.

Bradford says he knows he can't regulate decency, but he may help define it.

The Gardena city council will take up the debate at its next meeting Tuesday night.

 

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