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Cocoa, Florida drops saggy pants ordinance

10:17 AM, Dec 19, 2012   |    comments
Photo courtesy Florida Today
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Cocoa, FL (Florida Today) -- Police will not enforce an ordinance banning saggy pants while the city council continues the process of repealing the law.

Mayor Henry Parrish, who replaced Mike Blake in November, put the issue back on the agenda, fearing costly legal battles to defend enforcement of the law could hurt the city.

The Central Brevard Branch of the NAACP opposed the ordinance, claiming it would infringe on citizens' civil rights and could be a tool for profiling. The group said it was prepared to fight.

"I didn't want to fight, the organization didn't want to fight," said Alberta Wilson, president of the Central Brevard Branch of the NAACP.

"But we've got to hold people's feet to the fire. They have to do the right thing. You can't just arbitrarily violate people's civil rights."

The ordinance, which would have gone into effect Jan. 1, prohibited people from wearing pants or skirts that expose underwear or skin 3 inches or more below the waistline.

The ordinance would have only applied to streets, sidewalks and other designated city property, and the first written violation would have resulted in a $25 civil fine.

In a special session Tuesday, the council voted 4-1 to repeal the ordinance and agreed that there will be no enforcement until a final vote, which could come on Jan. 8, the first city council meeting of 2013.

Parrish and council members Brenda Warner and Tyler Furbish did not vote on final passage of the ordinance in October. Parrish and Warner were elected in November and Furbish was absent.

All three joined Councilman Clarence Whipple Jr. in supporting the repeal. Whipple cast the only vote against the ordinance when it passed, 3-1.

Warner said she was at the October meeting and was surprised it passed.

"I was 100 percent sure it was a violation of people's civil rights," Warner said. "I don't like saggy pants, but until we teach children to have respect for themselves, we are going to have to deal with saggy pants."

The ordinance would have only applied to streets, sidewalks and other designated city property and the first written violation would have resulted in a $25 civil fine.

Furbish expects the saggy pants fashion to change and opposes any attempt to enforce the ordinance.

"I believe it is a fad and it will fade away in time," said Furbish, who apologized for missing the October meeting.

"It's something I think we can't enforce and something we should not enforce."

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