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|Banning 'Baggy Pants' is harmful to the community. Criminals can blend-in now|
A 22-year-old man accused of rape had difficulty escaping from Memphis police in Whitehaven because his pants kept falling down around his knees, according to a court affidavit.
Police on Monday arrested Richard D. Graham of Memphis after a chase through apartment complexes that began in the 3500 block of Longbow, near Millbranch and Winchester.
Loud talking originally drew the officers' attention to three men, including Graham. When police discovered that Graham was wanted on a rape charge, he bolted but fell "multiple times while running due to his pants being around his knees," officers wrote in the court document.
On March 1, Memphis police charged Graham with rape following a report of a sexual assault last October involving a 14-year-old girl.
Police also charged Graham with evading arrest, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. He was held in Shelby County Jail with no bond amount immediately set on the rape charge.
The Florida legislature passed a bill last week that bans saggy pants in school, allowing for suspension or other punishment for public school students who show their underwear or "butt crack." The sponsors of the bill -- state Senator Gary Siplin (D-Orlando) and state Rep. Hazelle Rogers (D-Lauderdale Lakes) -- are black. The legislation awaits Gov. Rick Scott's signature.
In the same breath, the state's lawmakers also passed a bill banning bestiality, or sexual relations between human and animals. With fiscal crises, unemployment and other problems facing the states, these hardly seem like pressing issues, certainly not serious enough to warrant a law.
In any case, let's stick with the saggy pants law for now.
An extreme step for something so trivial, so harmless, this is not the first attempt by Floridians to hike up the pants. For example, in 2008, voters in Riviera Beach, Florida approved a saggy pants measure which imposed a penalty of $150 or community service for first-time offenders, and jail time for habitual offenders. A judge found the law unconstitutional after a teen was forced to spend a night in jail. Last year, the city of Opa-Locka, Florida imposed a $250 fine and community service for those who don't pull up their pants in public.
And Florida is not alone. Last month, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe beat Florida to the punch by signing a bill that bans students from wearing clothes that expose "underwear, buttocks or the breast of a female." Proponents believe the law will improve the learning environment and stem the violence caused by student competition over clothing styles. A similar effort in Tennessee failed in a state house subcommittee in April, a second attempt in as many years.
The town of Delcambre, Louisiana passed an indecent exposure ordinance in 2007 that prohibited the showing of one's underwear. In Hahira, Georgia, the city council passed a law prohibiting people from wearing pants below the belt and revealing skin or underwear.
Deciding to wear pants without a belt will seriously jeopardize employment opportunities for Black males already severely limited in employment opportunities by having the burden of a Black-sounding first name, poor credit score, and higher propensity for being a high school or college drop-out.
Last year a Bronx man was issued a summons by a police officer for disorderly conduct, and wearing "his pants down below his buttocks exposing underwear [and] potentially showing private parts."
It is our belief at Stuff Black People Don’t Like that these laws banning baggy pants do the public a grave disservice, especially when one considers these recent crime statistics published in Criminology:
The rise in the U.S. Hispanic population and the sharp jump in black violent crime during the late 1980s and early 1990s may skew statistics from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports and the National Crime Victimization Survey that appear to show a recent drop in black violence, said Darrell Steffensmeier, professor, sociology, and crime, law and justice, Penn State.
The researchers, who released their findings in the current issue of Criminology, indicated that studies on black violent crime -- a crime that involves force or the threat of force -- often fail to account for the rise in the number of Hispanics in the U.S. Since there is no Hispanic category in the UCR and approximately 93 percent of Hispanics identify themselves, or are identified by law enforcement officers, as white, most arrests of Hispanics are added to white violent crime rates.
"The result is that the violent crime rates for whites are inflated and the black rates are deflated in these studies," said Steffensmeier, who worked with Jeffrey T. Ulmer, associate professor, and Casey T. Harris, graduate student, both in sociology and crime, law and justice, Penn State and Ben Feldmeyer, assistant professor, University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
When the researchers adjusted for the Hispanic effect, there was little overall change in the black percentage of violent crime, said Steffensmeier.
Using arrest statistics from 1980 to 2008 in California and New York, two states that include a Hispanic category, the recalculated national figures indicated that the black percentage of assault increased slightly from 42 percent to 44 percent and homicide increased from 57 percent to 65 percent. There was a small decline in robbery, from 57 percent to 54 percent.
"It is the case that violent crime rates are lower today for blacks, as they also are for other race groupings, but the black percentage of violent crime is about the same today as in 1980," Steffensmeier said.
According to Steffensmeier, studies that purport to show declines in black violent crimes may also rely on timelines that are too short to be effective. For instance, studies that start in the late 1980s and 1990s cover a period of rapid increase in black violent crime fueled by crack cocaine use in the inner cities. According to Steffensmeier, the recent decrease is more likely a return to average crime rates.
"A study that uses statistics from a short time period can lead to a regression to the mean effect," said Steffensmeier. "Which basically means, when a trend rises quickly, it can fall just as quickly."
Some researchers have suggested that the improving trend in black violent crime indicates that African-Americans are experiencing better social standing in the U.S. Steffensmeier said that black progress may not be as pronounced or as broad.
"There may be a growing affluent black middle class, but at the same time, the black underclass appears to have become even more disenfranchised and more segregated from the rest of society," said Steffensmeier.