Republican Senator Don Barrington will introduce the bill, which would make it a misdemeanor to “wear a mask, hood, or covering” either while committing a crime or in order to intentionally conceal one’s identity. If the bill is passed, offenders would be subject to a fine of $50 to $500, and up to one year in jail. The ban would not affect mask-wearers on Halloween or at masquerade parties, nor would it apply to people who wear head coverings for religious purposes.
The bill’s purpose is seemingly to deter crime. As Channel 6’s report notes, robberies caught on surveillance camera often show the perpetrator wearing a mask or hoodie to cover his or her face. With the bill’s language only prohibiting wearing hoodies while committing a crime or to intentionally hide, supporters say the ban wouldn’t negatively affect people just trying to wear a sweatshirt in day-to-day life.
Others, however, have argued that bans on hoodies — no matter the intention — only serve to exacerbate problems with racial profiling. CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin took on the issue when an Indiana mall banned the garment in March:
“This is about the pretext of being able to stop young African-American males,” she said. “Hoodie is code for ‘thug’ in many places and I think businesses shouldn’t be in the business of telling people what to wear. The Fourteenth Amendment protects us from this.”
Hostin argued that hoodie bans are similar to previous bans on sagging pants, in that both target clothing items or styles worn predominantly by black men. Because of that, Hostin said, the bans give businesses and police officers an excuse to racially profile.
“When do we get to a place in our society where we stop doing this kind of thing?” she continued. “Where we stop targeting young black men so there is a pretext for being allowed to escort them out of a mall simply because of what they’re wearing?”
Similar laws banning hoodies and other face-coverings are already on the books in 10 states around the country, according to a report in Time Magazine. Several businesses in New York City have taken it upon themselves to prohibit hoodie-wearing in their stores.
More on both sides of the argument can be found in the video below: