It was a fashion that offended those with delicate sensibilities, and even caused former US president Barack Obama to wade in.
“Brothers should pull up their pants,” Obama once said of sagging — the practice of wearing trousers so low around the waist that most of the underwear is exposed.
Now a US city that made headlines by passing an ordinance against the trend in 2007, imposing a fine of up to US$500 on anybody caught low-riding within its boundaries, appears to no longer be outraged.
In a 4-1 vote, commissioners in Opa-locka, Florida, acted to strike the original regulation, and a 2013 amendment extending the ban to women, from its statute book.
Officials in the majority black city said that the move was meant to increase equality.
“I was never in support of it, even as a resident,” vice-mayor Chris Davis, one of five city commissioners who are all black, told the Miami Herald. “I felt it disproportionately affected a certain segment of our population, which is young, African American men.”
Sagging, which has its roots in New York hip-hop culture of the early 1990s, spread around the country into the early 2000s. School districts passed rules against it, the Louisiana town of Delcambre branded it indecent exposure and in Dallas, Texas, officials went so far as to launch an anti-sagging billboard campaign.
In 2011, Billie Joe Armstrong, the lead singer of the band Green Day, was thrown off a flight from Oakland to Burbank when attendants deemed his trousers were hanging too low.
The American Civil Liberties Union criticized the push for regulation, denouncing the original Opa-locka ordinance as “a ridiculous waste of public resources” — a position the city’s leaders have come to embrace.
At a meeting last week it was decided that tighter budgets in the COVID-19 era, married with a lack of enthusiasm to enforce the ordinance, meant it was time for it to go.
“What better climate to do it in than the one that’s going on around the country centered on police reform, and just looking at ways that we can make our public services more equitable,” Davis told the Herald.
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