SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A Shreveport city councilor is setting her sights on reversing the city’s ban on “saggy pants.”
“I feel there were unintended consequences that are having a really negative effect on our community,” says Levette Fuller, who represents District B. “I feel that this ordinance has a disproportionate impact on a subset of the African American community.”
The ordinance, passed in 2007, prohibits the wearing of pants below the waistline. Violators can be fined up to $100 and “up to one eight-hour day picking up trash or refuse, or performing other court-approved community service activities.” Second and third violations are punishable by fines of $150 and $250, respectively. The number of community service days doubles with each successive violation.
“But the unintended consequence is that it is a reason now,” Fuller says. “It gives probable cause to stop a person and detain them for being in breach of that ordinance, but then it creates an opportunity to check for other things.”
According to statistics compiled by the Shreveport Police Department at Fuller’s request, there have been more than 700 citations for violation of the ordinance since it went into effect.
While the ordinance specifies that any violation of the law “shall itself not be grounds for an arrest or for a full search of the person cited,” Fuller says a little over 200 of those citations ended with additional charges and argues there likely have been way more stops than that.
Fuller also takes issue with what she sees as legislation of decency and an infringement on the right to personal expression.
“This just isn’t about the racial issue. We are trying to legislate behavior and personal expression. That is unconstitutional.”
She says she has received positive feedback from the other councilmembers regarding her proposal.