by Yvette Carnell
In 2013 a black businessman rented a billboard to shame young black men who wear sagging pants. What he may not have understood at the time is that he was aiding in the push to outlaw the pants, which only leads to more black and brown men being profiled and arrested.
From The Atlantic:
As the Jackson Free Press reported, engineering student Akinola Gonzalez was stopped by college police on his school campus for walking with his pants sagging, a violation of the school’s policy. As a police report notes, Gonzalez complied with the security officials’ request to pull his pants up. But what happened afterward is an example of how such policies can become a pretext for unnecessary police entanglements.
Gonzalez reportedly failed to produce an ID when an officer asked for it (or at least questioned why he had to produce it), which led to his arrest, and later, after some other alleged insubordination, a strip search, and an overnight stay in the Hinds County Detention Center. According to an online petition from Gonzalez’s sister Dara Cooper, the police heckled him about his ability to post bond, and he was transferred the next day to a penal farm.
A bad fashion choice shouldn’t land you in jail, but that’s exactly what happened here. And that’s by design. It’s awful enough that policymakers push this sort thing, but it is even more damaging that so many of those rallying to ban saggy pants are black. You can’t be in favor of banning saggy pants while also expressing opposition to mass incarceration. That’s not how any of this works.