Undie Backlash: Gardena Councilman Wants To Ban Saggy Pants

The Gardena City Council is expected Tuesday to consider a
proposed ordinance that would ban the wearing of saggy pants and allow police
officers to cite offenders, but its proponents have an uphill struggle.

   Councilman Steve Bradford introduced the ordinance, arguing wearing
pants that hang below the waist, exposing skin or underwear, amounts to
indecent exposure.

   The ordinance will not be easily passed, the Daily Breeze reported
earlier this week. Mayor Paul Tanaka and Councilman Ron Ikejiri said in
remarks quoted by the newspaper that they would need to hear a very convincing
argument to favor the idea.

   "There are two issues: one that deals with a sense of decency, and the other that deals with basic rights afforded to all Americans," Tanaka said.  "You're not talking about school, work, church, places where there are
expectations that are enforceable. We're talking about telling people walking
down a street how they can dress."

   Several cities around the nation have passed similar laws, but not
without controversy, according to the Breeze.

This past summer, the Chicago suburb of Lynwood, Ill., banned saggy pants. The law allows $25 fines against anyone showing 3 inches or more of their underwear in public.

   In Florida, Riviera Beach residents voted in March to ban wearing saggy pants. But a Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge took issue with the law last week after a 17-year-old was held in jail overnight because police officers spotted his boxers. The judge declared the ban an unconstitutional civil rights violation.

   Peter Eliasberg, managing attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, told the Breeze that instituting a citywide dress code in Gardena could be a civil rights violation. "This is an idiotic ordinance," Eliasberg said.

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