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Southern pol pushes for saggy pants ban

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JACKSON, Miss. » As a Jackson City Councilman, Kenneth Stokes failed to pass a ban on saggy pants. Now he’s a Hinds County supervisor, and pushing for a county-wide ban.

The supervisors will hold a public hearing about the proposal today. The American Civil Liberties Union plans a protest before the hearing.

Stokes tells The Clarion-Ledger that saggy pants can be a bad influence on younger people.

"A lot of young people are looking at others with sagging pants. They think it means they’re mean, that they’re gangsters," Stokes said after making his new proposal.

"I’m not saying everyone who wears sagging pants is bad," Stokes said. "But it has turned into meaning something bad."

The civil liberties group says such bans unfairly target black men and are unconstitutional restrictions of freedom of expression.

In addition, said Bear Atwood, legal director at the ACLU of Mississippi, "This ban will divert scarce resources from law enforcement, and require them to be the fashion police."

Columbia, Columbus, Guntown, Indianola, Meridian, Ripley, Saltillo and Wiggins are among Mississippi cities that have banned saggy pants. Their ordinances forbid pants or skirts that ride more than three inches below the top of hips and which expose skin or underwear.

At least two Hinds County supervisors, Robert Graham and Peggy Calhoun, say they support the idea.

If approved, the ban could apply to all parts of Hinds, including the cities, said Crystal Wise Martin, attorney for the Board of Supervisors.

Stokes’ proposal is still being drafted, but Martin said there could be a community service requirement or a nominal $10 fine.

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