Local News

Scotland County town wants people to pull their pants up

Posted November 9, 2010 6:33 p.m. EST
Updated November 9, 2010 7:06 p.m. EST

— This town in Scotland County has 260 residents in 0.2 square mile, and town leaders want youth fashion on local streets to fit as snugly.

"I never thought I would see the day when people could walk around in public with their buttocks hanging out and think it was OK," Mayor Harry Pittman said in a statement last month.

Pittman is backing a proposed local ordinance that would make it a misdemeanor offense to wear pants or skirts 3 inches below the waistline.

"That's going to be a silly ticket, something to get charged with," local resident Charles Desmond said. "I think the court is just trying to find other ways of getting tickets, to get money."

Local resident John Patterson said he likes the idea of banning saggy pants from East Laurinburg.

"It should be against the law because it's indecent exposure," Patterson said.

Town commissioners said the town attorney has advised them not to discuss the issue outside of a meeting, noting the American Civil Liberties Union is already challenging the proposed ordinance.

Sarah Preston, policy director for the ACLU in North Carolina, called the saggy pants ban a violation of people's First Amendment rights. Clothing is a way for people to express themselves, she said.

Harry Patel, who owns the Community Mart convenience store in East Laurinburg, said he wonders what people with saggy pants are trying to express.

"What does that mean? What are you trying to tell other people, really?" Patel asked.

Preston said the ordinance also is too "vague and impractical" to enforce, noting Scotland County deputies who patrol East Laurinburg would have no way of knowing how low is too low on someone's pants.

Pittman has said the proposal is simply an extension of existing indecent exposure laws, and he plans to revisit the issue next month.