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Citizens voice opposition at 'saggy pants summit'

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga.: Roughly 20 concerned citizens voiced their opinions of a proposed city ordinance that would ban, among other acts deemed to be lewd, the wearing of pants off the hips.

The proposed "Saggy Pants Ordinance" was the topic of Mayor Pro Tem Christopher Pike's saggy pants summit at the downtown law enforcement center Monday.

The Albany City Commission is poised to vote on the measure later this month, but before it does commissioners have solicited input from constituents on the matter.

The ordinance, if adopted, lists seven "lewd," acts that would be prohibited. While items one through six address matters like urinating in public or public nudity, it is item seven, a ban on the wearing of saggy pants, that has sparked controversy.

Modeled after a similar ordinance in Dublin, which was passed by the Dublin City Council earlier this year, the ordinance is drawing divided comments from the community as many weigh what they believe to be a disrespectful fashion fad with boundaries of local government.

Monday's summit was no different. When polled at the end of the discussion, only one person raised his hand to indicate he was in favor of the proposed ordinance, while the remaining 19 or so raised their hands in opposition.

Many, through their comments, shared the sentiment that saggy pants are unappealing and would likely hinder a person's ability to be taken seriously in a professional setting, but most stopped short of saying it was government's responsibility to stop it.

Following are some of the comments made:

"I think (people who wear saggy pants) just think it's a game. That it's no big deal and I don't think they care what kind of image it sends out."

-- Chamblee Brown

"I don't see what good it's going to do. I don't agree with it, but I can't enforce my life and rules at home on people on the street. ... I don't think it's practical. I know we've all had plumbers come over and had an unfortunate experience, but should they be fined for it? No."

-- James Hubbard

"I just think it would bog down the criminal justice side of it. ... We have bigger issues out there for our police to handle than keeping track of people dressed different."

-- Clarence Washington

"I don't think we're accomplishing much by choosing to fine these people. Give them some outreach programs or events to show them the proper way to dress and how earn respect. ... Fining them won't do anything."

-- Joffe Wright

"I don't need the government telling me how to raise my kids. I take care of mine. Now I understand that there are those parents in this community that are ignorant and don't take care of theirs. We just have ignorant people, but there are some of them you can talk to and set them straight, but we'll always have those ignorant people you just can't do anything with ... But it's not the government's job to tell people how to dress."

-- Jackie Toye

"I would rather work with them and get them to pull their own pants up. ... They are merely rebelling against authority just as previous generations have done."

-- Michael Harper

"I don't like these kids wearing saggy drawers, but I'm against anything that will cost parents any more money. Ya'll better listen to me, I'm almost 100, raised 11 children and ain't killed one of them yet. ... They need to give parents back the right to discipline their children."

--Willie James Jackson

"I think most of the people in here are fine with one through six, but seven ... I think it's just going to target a group of people who we really should be targeting in a different way to include them into society. And if we aren't careful, we're just going to widen the racial divide of the community."

-- Jason Spears

"I just don't think police need to be worrying with this right now ... Look at littering; if they see someone doing that right now they can get them squared away, but how often do they actually catch someone littering? I think it's silly for police to try and enforce something they just don't have the resources to handle. Maybe we can get the restaurants to just stop serving them ... say 'Hey, you can't come in here with them saggy pants,' and things will change."

-- Gilroy Smith.