Senator Don Barrington, a Republican from Oklahoma, is proposing an amendment to a state law that will make it illegal to wear a hoodie, face mask, or any other item that could be perceived as concealing one’s identity in a public place. If anyone chooses to engage in a political protest, such as the collective hacker group Anonymous often does, this will force members to remove their Guy Fawkes masks to avoid being fined and/or arrested.
It is already an offense under the law in Oklahoma to conceal one’s identity while committing a crime (who is going to argue with that?) but this takes it one step further.
Section 1301 (B) reads verbatim:
It shall be unlawful for any person in this state to intentionally conceal his or her identity in a public place by means of a robe, mask, or other disguise.
Any person, or persons, violating the provisions of this section, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not less than Fifty Dollars ($50.00) nor more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not exceeding one (1) year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
There are several problems with this.
This will allow police to lawfully detain someone in a public place for merely wearing a hoodie and doing nothing else wrong. Section A of the bill makes it a crime while an offense is being committed, which almost everyone has no problem with. If you’re robbing a liquor store or a bank, violating this part of the law is the least of your worries.
However, this new law will make it a crime to walk in a public park with a hoodie on or any other tangible item perceived to be concealing your identity. Let your imagination run wild with this one: really big sun glasses, a gross amount of facial hair during no shave November? When will the stupidity stop?
Sen. Don Barrington (R), while not understanding this logic, said that the goal is simply to help deter crime:
The intent of Senate Bill 13 is to make businesses and public places safer by ensuring that people cannot conceal their identities for the purpose of crime or harassment. Similar language has been in Oklahoma statutes for decades and numerous other states have similar laws in place. Oklahoma businesses want state leaders to be responsive to their safety concerns, and this is one way we can provide protection.
This proposed new law is so disturbing, and comedic even, that this media outlet does not even know where to start.
If you read the actual bill HERE, one could make the argument that even law enforcement can’t cover their faces, say, during SWAT raids, unless of course you consider it a “safety” issue. That’s the problem. This bill is way too ambiguous in nature. All this does is disenfranchise otherwise law-abiding citizens and allow police to confront and harass whomever they see fit. Nothing will prevent cops from invoking this in Oklahoma as their reason for detaining someone for questioning.
Oklahoma City attorney James Siderias weighed in on the issue:
I think this is a violation of an individual’s right to choose what they want to wear as long as it doesn’t violate the realm of public decency and moral values, and I think this bill could be very problematic.
Tracy Wehagen thought of a few reasons why someone might want to cover up while outside:
They might have personal issues for keeping them on; they might have a bad hair day or maybe they have cancer or they’re losing their hair. You just don’t know why.
While the bill does offer a few exceptions, they are very limited in nature. For instance, you can still go trick or treating, and wear things at certain sporting events.
Let Senator Don Barrington know your thoughts at:
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Rm. 232
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
You can also send him an email at [email protected]. His executive assistant’s name is Sandra Shelton.
H/T: Anonymous | Featured Image: Rocket News