Evanston's Saggy Pants Ban Moves Forward

Municipalities trying to outlaw the wearing of sagging pants is nothing new. In 2004, the entire states of Louisiana and Virginia both tried to pass laws banning baggy pants--calling the trend public indecency. Now, north suburban Evanston wants to outlaw sagging trousers.

Members of Evanston's Human Services Committee voted in favor of a redefinition of public nudity at a Monday night meeting in the suburb, WBBM reports.

The new ordinance adds a few descriptors to the town's preexisting public indecency policy, and states that "the showing of the human male or female genitals, pubic areas or buttocks, or female breasts with less than a full opaque covering of any portion thereof below the top of the nipple" should be banned.

WBBM reports:

Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste proposed the ordinance in response to a trend among some youth wearing their pants too low.

Jean-Baptiste also expressed concerns about the long-term health effects of saggy pants on wearers as they walk and try to keep their pants hitched up.

While other bans popping up across the country usually target gang violence, Evanston lawmakers seem more offended by a peep show they did not want from an arrestee:

The issue first came to the committee's attention in a police report.

Police reported asking a young man to raise his arms. When he did, his pants slid to the ground. Underneath he was wearing nothing.

"Frankly, government shouldn't be telling us how to dress," American Civil Liberties Union spokesman Edwin Yohnka told CBS regarding the proposed ban. "If they create an ordinance, so if their pants exposing X amount of underwear, so what are the police going to do, carry around rulers and then you start stopping and questioning and measuring?"

The bans have been deemed unconstitutional in other parts of the country.

Evanston's ban would slap those wearing too-low pants with a fine of up to $750. A similar ban exists in suburban Lynwood, where the fine is just $25.

WBBM reports that during Monday's meeting, Evanston resident Betty Ester asked what length officials would go to impose their standards--asking why certain beachwear is somehow less offensive than saggy pants. WBBM reports:

"As a bikini wearer," said Alderman Jane Grover, "I think we're looking to regulate what you cover, and not how you cover it. A bikini covers all the right parts."

Pants can sag and still cover one's private parts, "and it wouldn't violate our public nudity ordinance," said Grover, an attorney. "The ordinance was just looking to define what nudity is, to give clarity to our Police Department so they understood where the lines were and to make clear public expectation of what you cover."

The full City Council will review the proposal before it becomes law.