Soon, wearing a hoodie in public in the totally-into-the-government-staying-out-of-your-life state of Oklahoma could net you a $500 dollar fine.
An amendment to a law from the 1920’s, which was originally passed to combat crimes by the Ku-Klux-Klan, has been perverted to harass minorities by making it “illegal to conceal your identity in public” with a hoodie.
How about we just be very honest about this. The context is clear. If Oklahoma was REALLY interested in banning identity concealment in public, they would have banned sunglasses as well. This is about making minorities not look “scary” to white people, who panic when they see a hooded sweatshirt on a non-white person.
State Senator Don Barrington (Republican, because of course he is) created the amendment, claiming it would help the victims of robberies. Apparently a non-hooded person is unable to rob you as efficiently.
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.” – said Sen. Don Barrington of Lawton.
One person who commented to KFOR said, “I don’t think that solution will work. I just think that will cause a little more tension within the community. It probably will be a reason for cops to mess with more people wearing hoodies.”
The ACLU of Oklahoma has released a statement, critical of the new amendment:
Here in Oklahoma, it has been illegal to use a hood, mask, or disguise for criminal conduct for over 90 years. This bill does nothing whatsoever to strengthen that law or to prevent or punish crime. Instead, this bill specifically targets only law-abiding individuals. Worse yet, the bill explicitly attempts to criminalize protected First Amendment rights. This bill would turn Oklahoma law enforcement into literally ‘the fashion police.’ What it proposes is both unnecessary and unconstitutional. Instead of bringing criminals to justice, this bill is far more likely to land the State of Oklahoma in the courtroom.
Laws against “urban” attire are nothing new. Florida has a law that can net you up to six months in jail for wearing saggy pants. There is absolutely nothing about these laws that deals with “safety.” It’s about the idea of non-white people wearing a hooded sweatshirt, and that meaning they are automatically up to no good. White people see it and get themselves in a panic, so of course we need to outlaw clothing rather than change the racist attitudes in society.
Featured image via Flickr