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Florida: Sagging Pants Law

July 2014: The city of Ocala, a town in central Florida, approved an ordinance that tightened the belt for anyone on city-owned property such as sidewalks, parks and pools. Violators could be forced to pay $500 or face jail time of six months. They tried to justify it by stating it would be similar to how officers enforce noise complaints.

They claim that targeting specific groups wasn’t their intention, as all people are wearing their pants down. All people, are they really? We all know how this works. If they see a young White male with his pants sagging down, he’d most likely receive an initial verbal warning. While if a young Black or Brown male was spotted, he would almost instantly receive an immediate fine.

Wildwood, a family-friendly town known for its boardwalk on the Jersey shore, banned sagging pants and revealing clothing last summer after complaints from tourists. Fines started at $25, but could add up to $200 as well 40 hours of community service.

Enforcement of these Jim Crow 2.0 laws have faced challenges in courts. A Florida judge struck down an ordinance in another city in 2008 after a 17-year-old boy spent the night in jail for exposing several inches of his underwear. One Pennsylvania judge dismissed a contempt of court citation against an 18-year-old who was arrested under the policy.

August 2014: The NAACP threatened a lawsuit against city of Ocala over sagging pants ordinance. NAACP leaders called the law “clearly discriminatory.” They also said the ban provides a “new avenue of interaction between young people and the criminal justice system.”

In September 2014, the controversial ordinance was repealed. A town hall meeting in Ocala saw a 4-1 vote reversing the ordinance, with Councilwoman Mary Rich putting forth the dissenting vote because she hoped the council would still make it a civil offense to wear saggy pants on city property

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