On Tuesday, August 19, 2014, at 4 p.m., at the City Council meeting, the Florida State Conference of NAACP Branches and its Marion County Branch will ask Mayor Kent Guinn and the five other members of the City Council to repeal Ocala’s Saggy Pants Law or face a legal challenge from the NAACP.
Florida State Conference 4th Vice President and Criminal/Juvenile Justice Chair, Dale Landry, will address the council and present specific data as well as legal justifications for repealing the law.
This fight is not a new fight for the Florida NAACP. Nearly six years ago, State Senator Gary Siplin sponsored a bill to address saggy pants in our schools and our streets. Florida State Conference (FSC) President, Adora Obi Nweze led the NAACP campaign to oppose the bill.
Former Florida Governor Charlie Christ supported the NAACP position and said, “I remember when I went to high school, people were worried about how long somebody’s hair was. It really doesn’t matter. What’s important is what you learn, not what you wear.”
Although a watered down version of the bill was eventually signed by current Florida Governor Rick Scott, the NAACP remains vigilant in its determination to legally challenge the saggy pants law implemented in the Florida’s public schools and in cities across the State of Florida.
President Nweze said, “These laws as clearly discriminatory…In essence, it will criminalize the wearing of saggy pants and thereby provide a new avenue of interaction between young people and the criminal justice system.”
Marion County Branch NAACP President, Loretta Jenkins, strongly agrees with this position. In her recent address to the City Council, she stated that, “many are concerned, as is the NAACP, of potential and of past records of racial profiling by law enforcement. By using the “Saggy Pants” ordinance to make initial contact with youth, especially African American males, the action may result in the further escalation of more serious charges such as resisting arrest, assault on officers, and other charges.”
The NAACP said when a black youth encounters the justice system, the recidivism rate for re-encounters increase.
The NAACP is blaming our laws for introducing youth into the criminal justice system instead of the actions of the individual person.
The NAACP wrote, “The law (referring to the saggy pants ordinance) creates a gateway to the criminal justice system for youth, the long-term implications of a second-degree misdemeanor will have a far-reaching impact into social mobility — such as jobs, income, and education — of those who become victims of this senseless law.”
Oddly enough, individuals sagging their pants in photo’s that have recently been circulated by other local media outlets, have felony arrest records for distribution of cocaine.
The NAACP said overwhelming evidence of racial profiling and recent stories of excessive force for minor offenses further strengthens the NAACP’s resolve to challenge the ordinance.
The NAACP said key elements for vacating the ordinance are the fact that the ordinance:
- Targets mainly black youth
- Leads to escalation of charges
- Allows for stop and frisk and
- Leads to excessive use of force
The NAACP also alleges that minor offenses often times turn deadly for the black community.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there is not any legitimate data to support the NAACP’s theory.
Many black leaders throughout the U.S. have spoken out against the NAACP for challenging the ordinance. Some accusing the group of using the ordinance to exploit the black community.
On August 1, 2014, Charles Patrick, fed up with today’s “saggy youth” and the “set yourself on fire” challenge, posted a challenge of his own.
WARNING: Contains mild language