Lynwood issuing tickets for baggy pants

July 15, 2008 4:38:21 PM PDT
It's another one of those clothing trends that some teens love and many parents hate. And now one Chicago suburb is taking its dislike of those below the hip saggy pants to a new level by banning them and handing out tickets.

"They just rolled up on us and told us to come here. And they didn't say why, so we didn't come. So then, we came to them, and they put us in the back of the car," said Antonio, 19, ticketed for wearing baggy pants, recounting a recent experience with south suburban Lynwood police. " We went to the station. They wrote out these tickets, and now we got to go to this little Lynwood court thing."

He is one of the first to be ticketed under a week-old ordinance that outlaws baggy pants and carries a $25 fine. Lynwood Mayor Eugene Williams says he wants his growing community to keep an upscale appeal to help attract businesses.

"It makes it very hard to drive through the neighborhood with a retailer and show him where he could possibly locate a store, and you've got people walking around that have no regard to anything," Williams said.

"In this case, I think it's very clear who the police are going to interact with. They're going to interact with young men of color because it tends to be young men of color who wear their pants this way. This is really the worst kind of racial profiling," said Ed Yohnka, American Civil Liberties Union.

Regardless of the motive for the ordinance, Yohnka said this ordinance opens the door to trouble.

Mayor Williams denies the ordinance has racial undertones. He says after being raised in Chicago's Robert Taylor projects and teaching in Chicago public schools for more than 20 years, the new ordinance is more about tough love. Some residents don't buy it.

"He can't raise my kids. And I love my mayor. I voted for him. But he's wrong on this one," said Margaret Liddell, Lynwood resident.

Some other residents say they believe in a tough economy, this is just a creative way for the village to make money. The mayor denies that allegation. He also says some parents have thanked him.


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