The Timmonsville Town Council in South Carolina approved a measure Tuesday evening banning pants that “intentionally” display the wearer’s undergarments.
Ordinance No. 543 passed by a 5-1 vote, in turn establishing a dress code effective immediately for the town of barely 2,000.
Introduced last month by Councilman Walter Washington, the ordinance allows for law enforcement to take action against anyone who engages in public nudity, displays pornographic material or wears pants exposing their underwear.
Specifically, the measure makes it unlawful to “wear pants, trousers or shorts such that the known undergarments are intentional [sic] displayed/exposed to the public.” First-time violators are subject to a verbal warning, but repeat offenders may be fined upwards of $600 and have their names added to a law enforcement registry, WMBF-TV reported.
“We’re trying to build up our town. And we can have the business, but if the people are not looking somewhat decent, then we have the business, but because of the people, they’ll be scared to get out of their cars,” Mr. Washington said when he proposed the measure last month.
The ordinance was endorsed by Timmonsville Mayor Pro Tem William James Jr., who previously said the proposal was intended to instill self-respect and integrity within the small town in South Carolina.
“Young children do what they see. If they see older guys doing that (sagging), they’re going to grow up and think that it’s right,” Mr. James said, according to Florence Morning News. “We need to put a stop to it. I understand there’s a such thing as fads, but this has gone on way too long.”
“I think other towns are actually doing it, and we need to do it,” Mr. James added. “We need to get a handle on Timmonsville. In order to clean up Timmonsville, this is one of the things we’re going to have to start (doing).”
Indeed, other municipalities within the U.S. have considered similar measures, albeit with mixed results: South Carolina’s Jasper County banned sagging pants back in 2008; a comparable 2014 ordinance approved in Ocala, Florida, was repealed amid legal pressure from the NAACP; and last year, students of Henderson State University in Arkansas said a similar measure banning baggy pants unfairly targeted African-Americans.
Cheryl Qualls, the only councilmember to vote against the ordinance Tuesday, said previously that she believes the rule “will increase racial profiling on some of our children here in Timmonsville and across the country.”