Republican Oklahoma state Senator Don Barrington is pushing an amendment that will ban people from wearing clothing that conceals their faces in public including hooded sweatshirts, according to KCTV.
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Oklahoma currently has a law in its books that prohibits anyone from sporting a “mask, hood, or covering that hides the identity of the wearer during the commission of a crime or for the purpose of coercion, intimidation, or harassment,” according to Senate Bill 13, and Barrington’s proposed amendment would enhance this statute.
The newly proposed amendment would make it unlawful “to intentionally conceal his or her identity in a public place by means of a robe, mask, or other disguise.” Barrington’s proposal has a few folks scratching their heads as to why he feels compelled to ban popular street fashions, such as a hoodie.
However, Barrington argues it is “immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health, and safety” and that “an emergency is hereby declared to exist.”
Not everyone is on board with Barrington’s proposed bill, though. James Siderias, an attorney who spoke to KCTV, says the proposed amendment is overkill as there are already laws in the state’s books preventing hoodies during a crime and the bill is just stepping on the rights of the public, “I think this 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 that this could be very problematic,” Siderias said.
A.T., a hoodie wearer, feels Barrington’s motives are racially motivated telling KCTV, “I don’t think that solution will work. I just think that will cause a little more tension within the community; it probably will be a reason for cops to mess with more people wearing hoodies.”
Barrington did make some provisions in his proposed bill, such as excluding people who wear costumes, cover up their faces for religious reasons, need to protect their faces for safety or medical purposes, or need protection from the weather.
Hoodies became a hot-button issue after Black teen Trayvon Martin (pictured), who was wearing a hoodie, was brutally shot down in 2012 by Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. As s a sign of solidarity and support for the Martin family after the teen’s death, a number of protestors from all walks of life donned hoodies and marched in rallies across the nation.