In February, Anthony Childs was shot and killed in Shreveport, Louisiana after a confrontation with police over his sagging pants. Now one councilwoman wants to get rid of a 2007 law that made it illegal for people to wear pants below the waist, which triggered confrontation in the first place.
On Friday, Shreveport City Council will start looking at a proposal brought by LeVette Fuller this week to repeal the law, which has resulted in more than 700 violations with fines ranging from $100 to $250, according to Baton Rouge CBS affiliate WAFB TV.
The city, which is 57 percent black, has even used the law to take people into custody.
“Being able to say out loud that someone was stopped or detained because legally they were not dressed appropriately is an issue,” Fuller told WAFB. “We shouldn’t give police the ability to look at a human body the same way you look at a broken tail light."
Shreveport Officer Traveion Brooks fired at Childs, 31, eight times in the course of the February police chase, but the Caddo Parish coroner says the bullet that killed Childs was self-inflicted and ruled his death a suicide, according to the Shreveport Times. Brooks also alleges that Childs shot himself.
Now, there are controversies both over the original reason for pursuing Childs — the saggy-pants law — and whether Childs’ death was properly investigated. It’s not clear whether the cop or Childs started firing first.
"Officer Brooks attempted to detain Childs, who fled, and when confronted by the officer, produced a handgun. During this confrontation, Mr. Childs shot himself in the chest," the local district attorney’s office said in an April announcement that it wouldn’t review the case any further.
In the meantime, Fuller at least wants to see the sagging pants ordinance done away with.
According to ABC affiliate KTBS, though, the city council isn’t yet in complete agreement; Councilman Grayson Boucher, who is white, worries that the law change could impact how police officers do their jobs, but said in a Facebook post that he agrees it should be examined further.
Around the time the Shreveport ban was passed in 2007, other mostly black municipalities like Pine Lawn, Missouri were enacting such “saggy pants” laws. Cities as large as Atlanta debated the merits of the law, and whether sagging pants posed an indecency risk or were simply a mode for free expression.
“The saggy pants debate will continue the next two weeks until the vote,” Boucher said in another Facebook post. “I want everyone to know how much I appreciate your input, the good, the bad and ugly.”
Cover: Two youths wear their pants with the underwear showing on April 23, 2009 in Riviera Beach, Florida. Recently Palm Beach Circuit Judge Paul Moyle ruled a Riviera Beach city law banning sagging pants is unconstitutional in the case of a 17-year-old who was arrested and held overnight in jail for breaking the law. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)