City Drops Controversial Saggy Pants Ordinance

Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

saggypants-exampleAfter a backlash from the general public and lack of support, the Florida city of Ocala repealed its ban against wearing saggy pants on public property.

During a city council meeting members voted 4-1 to repeal ordinance 2014-44 “Clothing requirements on public property” that called for a punishment of up to 60 days in jail and a $500.00 fine.

Among the public were representatives of the NAACP who voiced concern the law would target African-American youth.

The lone dissenter to the repeal, Councilwoman Mary Rich who authored the original ordinance, argued that she believes the types of people who wear saggy pants also don’t have jobs.

“And when you don’t have money to feed your family, what do you do? Steal,” Rich said. “I don’t think we’re violating their First Amendment rights.” Her words caused a stir in the audience.

In brief, the ordinance prohibited the wearing of pants that exposes underwear or the buttocks. The text of the former ordinance read:


Sec. 15-91. – Purpose.

It is the purpose of this article to promote, protect and improve the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the city by prohibiting insufficient clothing and manner of dress on all city owned property, especially city parks or recreation facilities frequented by children and families. In particular, it is the purpose of this article is to promote good morals, public health and hygiene by providing clothing standards which ensure that the buttocks of any person on city owned property (e.g., parks and recreational facilities) is sufficiently covered.

(Ord. No. 2014-44, § 1, 7-15-14)
Sec. 15-92. – Intent.

The intent of this article is to provide specific minimal clothing standards which can be consistently applied to all persons that use or come on to city owned property.

(Ord. No. 2014-44, § 1, 7-15-14)
Sec. 15-93. – Definitions.

City owned property means any park, recreation facility, sports field, swimming pool, parking lot, municipal building, public square or gathering area, roadway, sidewalk, bike path or like transportation facility, terminal, airport, water or sewer facility owned or leased by the City of Ocala.

Natural waistline means that area immediately above a person’s hips.

Underwear means an article of personal wear that is worn between the skin and an outer layer of clothing. “Underwear” includes, but is not limited to, boxer shorts, jockey shorts and thongs.

(Ord. No. 2014-44, § 1, 7-15-14)
Sec. 15-94. – Public decency.


It is unlawful for any person, while on city owned property, to knowingly or intentionally wear pants below the person’s natural waistline in a manner that leaves the person’s underwear or bare buttocks exposed. A person’s underwear is “exposed” if, when measured vertically, more than two inches of it is visible. A person’s bare buttock[s] are “exposed” if any portion of the person’s intergluteal cleft is visible.


It shall be presumed that a person knowingly or intentionally violated the requirements of this article when that person has been notified by a police officer of the violation and requested to conform to the ordinance’s requirement and subsequently while still on city owned property fails to comply with the requirements of this article despite the warning.


Any person violating any of the prohibitions of this section shall, may be punished as provided in City Code section 1-9 ons [sic] of this section shall, may be punished as provided in City Code section 1-9.


In 2008, a Florida judge decided a similar ruling that landed a teenager in jail was “unconstitutional”.

The 17-year-old spent a night in jail after police arrested him for exposing 4 inches of boxer shorts in Riviera Beach in Southeast Florida.

A circuit judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional based on “the limited facts” of the case.

The city is getting out of the fashion police business, at least for now. In their misplaced quest to dress up the city’s image, the fact that the British press picked up the story certainly exposed themselves to some unwanted publicity.

By Darren Smith


Ocala Star Banner
Ocala, Florida City Code
BBC News

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

46 thoughts on “City Drops Controversial Saggy Pants Ordinance”

  1. For what it’s worth, I’m not seeing saggy pants much in the city these days–only when I visit small towns. It’s definitely on its way out. It’s going to take awhile to work its way through rural towns, though as youth try to emulate what they think is cool. And, Nick Spinelli.. Commando? TMI…but you made me laugh.

  2. Thanks to everyone who voiced their objections to my post about the reasons for the “baggy pants” syndrome. I’ll try to explain more clearly why this is not a “thug” issue.

    First, I would like to give some back-up to the opinion that our justice system is unfairly convicting men of color by looking at the exoneration rates for blacks:

    Nationwide, Black defendants are more likely than their white counterparts to be wrongfully convicted, and defendants charged with crimes against white victims are far more likely to be erroneously convicted than defendants charged with crimes involving nonwhite victims. Despite the fact that there are far more Black homicides with Black victims, an overwhelming 76 percent of all death row exonerees were wrongfully convicted of the murders of white victims.

    Also see:αpe-charges/

    Next:: The trend is not glorifying with thugs or criminals; it is identifying with those who have been wrongly convicted.

    Next: That some people are wrongfully convicted does not mean that the majority of convicted people are wrongly convicted.

    Next:: I agree that the phenomenon does extend beyond the black community, but that doesn’t negate the reason that it started in the black community. Why other young men may want to follow this trend is not a question that I am addressing; that has to do with their community not the Afro-American community.

    Next: This trend did not start to glorify criminality, but to show solidarity with those who had been wrongfully incarcerated. Society may mistake these trends as “glorifying” but they are in fact telling society something that it needs to know: a group in their society perceives an injustice in the judicial system.

    1. cheyanne – you are going to have to “show” this solidarity. If they were in solidarity shouldn’t they be out marching in front of the jails protesting instead of shuffling up and down my school hallways trying to keep from falling down?

  3. Well, time for a Folk Song!

    Saggy Pants
    A Parody Song by Squeeky Fromm
    To The Tune of Careless Love

    Pants, oh pants, oh saggy pants.
    Pants, oh pants, oh saggy pants.
    Pants, oh pants, oh saggy pants.
    To git away, you ruined my chance!

    Once, I wore my britches low.
    Once, I wore my britches low.
    Once, I wore my britches low.
    When I knocked off that liquor sto’.

    The cops, they chased me down the street.
    The cops, they chased me down the street.
    The cops, they chased me down the street.
    Then, my pants fell down around my feet.

    The cops, they cuffed me where I knelt.
    The cops, they cuffed me where I knelt.
    The cops, they cuffed me where I knelt.
    Oh why, did I not wear a belt???

    Now, I wears my britches high.
    Now, I wears my britches high.
    Now, I wears my britches high.
    Cause my cell mate is a gay guy!

    This is an easy song to play on guitar, and here is a youtube of Jean Ritchie singing it. But there are many other versions, too.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  4. looking like a thug to be cool says more about our culture than it does about the youths following the trends.unfortunately our culture is trending downward morally and spiritually, when people who entertain by calling women ho’s and glorify violence get invited to the white house

  5. The saggy pants drive my Southern Baptist Girlfriends nuts and truly it is disgusting and gross so why do we all have to look at someone’s crack. It is not cool. It is what thugs in Jail do. And it’s nothing to do with race. I lived in North County and both races did it along with their caps being turned to the side

  6. Councilwoman Mary Rich is “a retired Correctional Probation Senior Supervisor for the Florida Department of Corrections” according to the City of Ocala, FL, website, She was also “a Past President of the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency” and has served on the City Council since 1995.

  7. cheyanne, I worked in the criminal justice system, including a stint @ Leavenworth. There are people from all cultures that have gotten a raw deal. But, they are a distinct minority. The VAST majority of people in prison belong there and they should not be glorified, nor should their perverted prison culture. If you want to help those wrongfully imprisoned GO TO COLLEGE and become an attorney, cop, correctional officer. Don’t walk around w/ your crack showing. Who the hell are you helping doing that???

  8. And doesn’t that lie at the root of the problem – the attraction of the thug culture, the pull of gangs, because being tough is considered strong. In actuality, when the young deliberately become criminals, it’s an inherently selfish act, sentencing their moms to helplessly watch them slide down until they’re inevitably in jail.

    If someone breaks the law, it’s not the cop’s fault, or the judge’s fault, or the lawyer’s fault or rich people’s fault when he goes to jail. It’s his fault for breaking the law. I just want to ensure that everyone gets equal sentencing, with equal modifiers for first time offenses, or other extenuating circumstances.

  9. cheyanne:

    “These symbols of prison culture show the community’s solidarity with those members who are or have been in prison due to police harassment and prosecutorial misbehavior.” Are you saying that a majority of African Americans are in jail because they were framed, and are completely innocent? Or do youth think being a criminal is cool?

    My parents would have had a fit if I glorified thug culture, or tried any fashion statement in solidarity with those who broke the law.

    Now, Nelson Mandella and MLK’s incarcerations are a completely different matter, and very worthy of our respect and admiration.

  10. Bonnie, The problem w/ the look is it is what the great sportswriter Jason Whitlock calls the “prison culture” that has been embraced by young, black, men. Long hair, beards, bell bottoms, fancy hats, were all rebellion. And, yes, rebellion is not only normal, it is good. But, when the rebellion glorifies a prison culture it is horribly self destructive.

  11. All generations seem to seek something in their youth that makes them look different. But, like in the old song:

    What’s the difference being different
    When it’s difference now that looks alike

    I do hope that a new look comes in soon; because this is one of the absolute worst looks ever to enter the fashion world. I do tend to snicker whenever I see guys dressed like this; and, the snickering gets worse with every time I see a guy reach back to pull his pants up a smidge. And, now with the very low hip hugger pants the young women wear, we get to see the butt cracks of young women. Wonderful.

  12. You can always pick out a European or French Canadian by the Speedos they wear @ the beach, Makes it easier to avoid any contact.

  13. There is a bad side to capitalism also. Even the Nazis had capitalism. Private enterprise can be related but is not the same. A dose of respect & fear to induce conformity sounds like the morality police in the Middle East. Capitalism suggests that the senior thing is lending and borrowing money with interest. It puts the bankers at the top of the pyramid. They have shown themselves to be as irresponsible as the SS or the Soviet Communist Party. No thanks.

  14. ” So, while this ordinance was stupid, the jail/prison culture glorified by this idiotic trend is even more stupid and self destructive.”

    While Nick is right that this trend is based on jail culture, this trend actually services a purpose in the black community. These symbols of prison culture show the community’s solidarity with those members who are or have been in prison due to police harassment and prosecutorial misbehavior. As has been reported about Ferguson, minority communities can be held under siege conditions by the police.

    If you see minority cultural trends that seem to be a slap in the face of society, check out what role these trends play within community not in the society at large.

    1. cheyanne – the phenomena is not exclusive to the black community. And having high schoolers wear their pants like this has nothing to do with solidarity with the oppressed.

  15. Capitalism would regulate this rebellious couture and counter-culture behavior. It would benefit the individual financially to obey the rules of society. A healthy dose of respect and fear to induce conformity and acceptance.

    Communism/Socialism/Progressivism/Collectivism produces “welfare behavior” through gratuitous provision of welfare, food stamps, affirmative action, quotas, Medicare, obamacare, rent control, etc.

    Unintended consequences or naiveté?

    “There’s a sucker born every minute.” – P.T. Barnum

  16. Its a dumb fad that has gone on several decades. Long shorts is another dumb fad that has gone on several decades, even into swimwear. Still, you don’t have to follow the trend & I don’t. I wear short shorts in summer & ‘speedos’ in the pool. Never seen the point in boxers unless you do let your pants fall down. There are several nudist resorts south of Ocala so locals can hang out there without sanction. Some of them might kick you out of the pool though for wearing too much. I’d like to see the pendulum swing eventually away from baggy lazy clothes to smart but casual like the Italians.

  17. Saggin’ pants are a fad. Leave them alone. This fad, too, will fade. Consider the bright side, they wear underwear and it’s clean.

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