Opa-locka cracksdown on sagging pants
Written by Cynthia A. Roby
Miami – News In Black
The city of Opa-locka is serious about enforcing its dress code. Many violators, who were issued a $250 citation for each incident of breaking the city’s “no saggy pants” rule, stood before a magistrate judge over two days this week during the city’s code enforcement department’s special master’s hearings.
The magistrate judge either imposed the fine or doled out community service. Repeat fashion offenders or no shows will face a judgment lien.
The city, in 2007, passed the controversial dress code by banning what can be worn on city property. And some took the action as a joke.
“I couldn’t believe when the [hearing summons] came to my momma’s house,” Raynell Butcher, 19, said. “I just knew they were lying, you know, some old people trying to tell folk what to wear, how to wear it. And now I got troubles.”
Butcher said that he “got off lucky” with community service but won’t “test these folks again. I mean 250 bucks is pretty steep. It’s just not cool to hurt a brother’s pockets like that.”
The court addressed a back-log of 96 cases from January of this year.
The saggy-pants look is popular among many teens and some adults. But in the city of Opa-locka, where more than 74 percent of its residents are African American, the style is considered an offense.
“I don’t want to look at these boys’ underwear,” Dennis Lawrence said of the teens that come into his print and copy store looking for work. “Do they really think they will get jobs looking like wannabe rappers who can’t get fully dressed? I need someone professional in here so I can keep my customers.”
Lawrence said that he is sad that there was “such a backlog and took so long to let people know that we are tired.”
According to Pete Bolden, who works with young men who have arrest records, the sagging look was originated in seedy prison cells.
“It’s code for ‘I am taken by another man in this jail,’” Bolden said. “How these young boys can find fashion in such a statement is beyond me. But they do and it hurts their chances of not only securing employment but being harassed by the police.”
Opa-Locka Commissioner Dorothy Johnson told reporters during an earlier interview: “I don’t think they really understand where it really started … employers are not really going to hire you looking like that.”
Michael Donovan, a Miami-Dade County educator, does not allow young men to enter his classroom if their underwear is exposed. “Someone needs to take a stand,” he said. “I get that young people want to be cool and make their own statements, but not being able to walk because you spend every moment pulling up your pants is nonsense.”
Donovan said that he “tries to explain to the young men how the look is perceived. Some get it, others don’t. But soon they will all have to look for jobs.”
Sadie Jeffries, Butcher’s mother, said that she was “actually happy that the police made Raynell pull up his pants. I’ve been trying but you know, boys and deaf ears. Maybe he will try to be serious now that he knows he’ll have to pay for looking silly. Maybe now he will get one of those jobs he’s been looking for,” she said.