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Oklahoma Lawmakers Want To Ban People From Wearing Hoodies In Public

A new bill set to be introduced to the state next month proposes that people be fined up to $500 or spend a year in jail for sporting a hooded sweatshirt.
Photo de Neil McIntosh/Flickr

If Oklahoma lawmakers get their way, fashion could soon actually become a crime.

Republican Senator Don Barrington is introducing an amendment bill this February to the South Central state that seeks to ban people from wearing hooded sweatshirts, also known as hoodies, in public.

The act would amend a previous law enacted in 2011, which made it illegal to wear a hoodie or disguise while committing a crime. Now Barrington wants to make it illegal for people to "intentionally conceal his or her identity in a public place by means of a robe, mask, or other disguise."


"The intent of Senate Bill 13 is to make businesses and public places safer by ensuring that people cannot conceal their identities for the purpose of crime or harassment," Barrington told Oklahoma's KFOR-TV.

"Similar language has been in Oklahoma statutes for decades and numerous other states have similar laws in place," he added. "Oklahoma businesses want state leaders to be responsive to their safety concerns, and this is one way we can provide protection."

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The law would exempt children on Halloween, masquerade party guests, public parade revelers, medical professionals, people wearing covering for religious purposes and circus performers, among others, according to the act.

But anyone else found violating the ban would face a fine between $50 and $500, a maximum of one year in prison, or both.

Civil rights advocates are concerned that the bill is too wide-ranging, would promote racial-based profiling and is simply nonsensical and possibly unenforceable in the wintertime.

"If somebody is out running, especially in this kind of weather, where it's cold, drizzly, you might be inclined to wear your hoodie," local attorney James Siderias told KFOR.

"I think [the bill] 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," he added. "I think they just overreached a little bit."

Other rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), previously criticized a controversial city ordinance in Opa-Locka, Florida banning the sporting of saggy pants in public. The union said the policy would "disproportionately penalize African-American youth," and "impose overly harsh penalties for victimless behavior."

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Photo by Neil McIntosh/Flickr