- Shreveport, Louisiana officials are considering overhauling the city’s “saggy pants” ordinance that bars people from wearing pants below the waist in public.
- The debate began in February, when 31-year-old Anthony Childs fatally shot himself after a police chase. The officer involved had originally wanted to stop Childs for wearing low-hanging shorts.
- Some local lawmakers believe the law wrongly targets people of colour.
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A Louisiana city is grappling with its “saggy pants” ordinance that stoked controversy after a man was stopped by a police officer in February over his low-hanging shorts – a situation that devolved into a police chase and ended with the man’s death.
Anthony Childs, 31, shot himself in the chest February 5, shortly after fleeing a police cruiser that pulled up to him on the footpath. A coroner determined that the officer also shot Childs three times, but none of those gunshot wounds were fatal,according to The Shreveport Times.
The officer later confirmed that he had approached Childs with the intent of citing him under the “saggy pants” ordinance, which bars residents from wearing pants below the waist in public.
Shreveport’s interim police chief, Ben Raymond, told a community gathering last week that the officer “followed proper procedure policy” when he tried to stop Childs under the ordinance, and when he opened fire upon seeing that Childs had a gun.
Shreveport’s police department did not immediately respond to INSIDER’s request for comment.
Lawmakers are debating whether the law is unconstitutional
Since the law was enacted in 2007, the Shreveport Police Department issued more than 700 citations under the law, according to the local ABC affiliate KSLA. Those who violate the ordinance can be fined between $US100 and $US250, or sentenced to community service.
But now, city officials are debating whether to repeal the ordinance entirely. Mayor Adrian Perkins said at a City Council meeting on Tuesday that the ordinance was “well-intentioned” but “unfairly targets people of colour.”
“Just like many initiatives in the war on drugs that we now realise are discriminatory against people of colour, we’ve evolved to reach that understanding,” he said.
Another city councilwoman, LeVette Fuller, told KSLA she believed the ordinance was unconstitutional, and violated residents’ right to freedom of expression.
“We don’t legislate people leaving the beach, lake or pool in a bikini – only this particular form of clothing,” she said. “We’re profiling people based on the way they dress.”
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