Hooded sweatshirt = $500 fine

January 4, 2015
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Hooded sweatshirts continue to elicit strong reactions.  A new proposal would fine people for wearing them in public.

Hooded sweatshirts continue to elicit strong reactions. A new proposal would fine people for wearing them in public.

Oklahoma state senator Don Barrington will soon introduce a bill to criminalize the wearing of hooded sweatshirts.  Aside from a sweatshirt, any disguising clothing, such as a robe or a mask, would also be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $500 fine. Exceptions will include clothing for religious occasions, Halloween, and weather-permitting circumstances.  Proponents of the bill argue that it is intended to deter crime, given that crimes witnessed on surveillance cameras frequently show individuals who attempt to cover their face with a mask or hood.  Others view it as another example of racial profiling, directed largely at young African-American men.  In fact, Oklahoma already has a law passed in the 1920’s that bans hoods during a crime.  Its original intent was to deter the Ku-Klux-Klan.  This amendment, however, would ban them in all public places.  Oklahoma City attorney James Siderias voiced his concern, “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 could be very problematic.”  Other communities have also experienced backlash over the wearing of hooded sweatshirts, including a shopping mall in Indiana or stores in New York City.  Individual establishments have posted signs in windows banning entrance to those wearing hoodies, but it is unlikely that these trespassing warnings could be enforced.  Hoodies gained national attention in 2012, when a hooded and unarmed Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman.  Mr. Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter a year later.  His defense took advantage of “Stand Your Ground” laws, which many consider racist.

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