Ocala, Fla. (CBS TAMPA) — Just one month after the Ocala City Council voted in favor of a ban against saggy pants in which offenders were subject to a fine or jail time, the controversial ordinance was repealed after the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People threatened legal action.
A town hall meeting in Ocala on Tuesday 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. The saggy pants law takes aim at anyone on city property wearing his or her pants two inches below their natural waist in a way that exposes their underwear or backside.
But Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn said legislation or criminalization of a person’s wardrobe puts the city in “dangerous territory.”
“I think you get into really dangerous territory when you start legislating what type of clothes people wear or how they put together their ensemble,” Guinn told WKMG-TV.
And his stance comes after criticism from the NAACP, who applauded the council’s action to repeal the ordinance, arguing that such an issue should be dealt with at home, in churches or by community groups — not the government.
A flyer distributed throughout the city by the NAACP shows the “$500 FINE and/or 60 DAYS in JAIL” penalty in addition to the message: “Sagging pants & criminalization of our youth. Should this result in fines, arrest & JAIL?!?”
NAACP officials say the ordinance directly targeted young black males.
“I’m sorry, it’s going to be black males that are the subject of this,” Dale Landry, of the NAACP Florida chapter, told WKMG.
But not everyone in the local community agrees with the council’s reversal of the saggy pants ordinance.
“It’s deplorable, it’s despicable, nobody wants to see anyone’s behind. I don’t want to see your underwear,” said Franklin Rich, a teacher who supports the law and said he feels the ordinance promotes good morals and respect in the community.
“I think they should take up a different fight. I would advise the NAACP to put their resources into educating and empowering our people, not supporting negative behavior,” Rich said.
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