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Hoodie Ban: Coming to a neighborhood near you

Hoodie Ban: Coming to a neighborhood near you

Oklahoma lawmakers have FAR too much time on their hands

There’s no eloquent way to introduce a story about a group of elected officials who want to ban wearing hoods in public—so let’s just jump in.

Oklahoma lawmakers are considering a bill that could make it a fineable offense to wear any kind of identity-concealing garment in a public place. Don’t believe me? I didn’t when I first heard it, but here’s the text of the bill (in part):

It shall be unlawful for any person in this state to: A. To wear a mask, hood or covering, which conceals the identity of the wearer during the commission of a crime or for the purpose of coercion, intimidation or harassment; or B. To intentionally conceal his or her identity in a public place by means of a robe, mask, or other disguise.

These two points are followed by a long list of times when wearing a hood or mask will be allowed, including on Halloween, during parades or demonstrations, or during periods of inclement weather.

Basically what this does is (in part) create an included offense to the larger offense of actually committing crime; a similar provision has been on the books since the heydays of the KKK. The larger problem is part (B), which would prevent people from “concealing their identity” in public. It doesn’t explicitly ban hooded sweatshirts, but the law of unintended consequences is lurking just around the corner in Chuck Taylors and a Dave Matthews Band summer tour hoodie, just waiting for an opportunity to pop out and menace the perpetually comfortable.

As always, lawmakers have good intentions.

From the ABA Journal:

“The intent of [the bill] is to make businesses and public places safer by ensuring that people cannot conceal their identifies for the purpose of crime or harassment,” Barrington told the station.

Barrington’s bill would amend an existing law, enacted in the 1920s, that bans the wearing of hoods while committing crimes, and members of the Ku Klux Klan were the law’s targets. The amended law would extend the ban to include the wearing of any hoods or facial disguises in public.

The optics surrounding this bill don’t exactly speak to public safety concerns so much as they speak to the need to create a crisis. From the bill:

It being immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is hereby declared to exist, by reason whereof this act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage and approval.

I don’t know about you, but I have days where I don a hoodie before heading out to run errands. It’s nothing personal, and it’s not some sort of veiled threat; I just feel the need to be swaddled while I buy my frozen chicken breasts and bags of oranges. I’m not embracing “gangster culture”—but you can bet that if this type of law passes in Oklahoma, you’re going to see a whole stack of case files initiated by concerned citizens who saw a 17 year old boy in a sweatshirt and just didn’t know what to think. Lawmakers claim that the purpose of the bill is not to ban hoodies, and I believe them; but they’re walking a thin line here between protecting the public and placing what amounts to a ban on certain types of free expression.

In the vast scheme of things, this bill isn’t terribly important. If it passes, attorneys will stampede to the courthouse with piles and piles of lawsuits, and a judge will most likely laugh heartily before giving lawmakers the choice to either amend it, or wipe it off the books.

You can read the full bill here.


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It looks like it will be illegal to be a clown in Oklahoma although their politicians sure act like one.

Why not, a ban seems to have prevented all kinds of problems in France…

If Oklahoma businesses have a problem, they can ban masks, hoods, hats, etc.. within their premises. Let them make the decision.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Sanddog. | January 11, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Hoodies are so 1992 George Bush SR……

    Only criminals, and the hopeless (read Democrats) still wear them.

    No Face – No Service – No Entrance!

    “End All Hoodies! It’s a Good Thing!” – Mothra Stew-hart

      Any day that’s below 70 (I do live in Florida after all), I wear my favorite hoodie when I’m out and about in the cold and damp. I do take the hood down when I enter stores, because I think it looks kind of dorky to have your hoodie up INSIDE, but I’m out and about in it in public all the time.

      Especially for morning walks when I haven’t had time to do my hair 😀

One of the things I like about Texas is that our legislature only convenes every other year. I’m thinking the pols up there have too much idle time on their hands. Instead of doing shit like this, they should meet less often, or go through the books and see what sort of dead-wood legislation they can repeal. Whoever introduced this moronic crap should be laughed out of town.

These two points are followed by a long list of times when wearing a hood or mask will be allowed, including on Halloween, during parades or demonstrations, or during periods of inclement weather.

What about while being a muslim female? Oh, of course they’ll make an exception for that, after the uproar.

Then, opportunistic criminals will be shopping for burqas.

B. To intentionally conceal his or her identity

As a layman, wouldn’t this require the prosecutor to prove that the hoodie (or whatever) was worn in order to disguise the wearer’s identity?

Part A sounds a lot like just adding on stuff to make committing a crime even more illegal. It’s like documenting all the traffic violations made during a high speed chase in order to pile stuff on.

From my perspective, seems more efficient to make fact that complainant was concealing their identity via garment as creating a presumption of reasonable fear of unlawful attack.

The truth is that the use of hoodies and other similar garments IS common garb for murderers, rapists, and robbers, specifically FOR the purpose of concealing their identities.

Given that reality, are we to pretend that’s NOT a reality?

BTW, one of the first exam questions I ever had in law school WAY BACK in the 1980s specifically involved an actual statute banning this kind of identity concealing garb. These are NOT new laws, although they may be new to this particular jurisdiction.

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    The original section was passed in 1923-1924 and was in response to the KKK. The word “hood” is mentioned twice – in the section header and to say that that the person shall not wear a “mask, hood or covering”.

    There is no mention of hood or hoodie in the amendment. It is just people reading too much into the amendment.

    From what I have read/heard, this was in response to protesters wearing disguises and possibly committing crimes, so it is hard to identify them.

    If you object to something, why aren’t you willing to show it? If you hide your face, you are a coward. I see a masked person, so what. I see my neighbors protesting, whoa, maybe I need to rethink things…

SC has had a Mask law for years. Basically, adults can not wear anything that conceals their face in public. Don’t recall hearing, or reading, of anyone being charged under the law.

OK – you have to be kidding on your analysis of this proposed change of the law in Oklahoma.

First – this is an amendment to one section of the law. Go to to see the law. It is Title 21, Section 1301. If you bother, it is screen 568-569 out of 796 pages. Section 1301 describes wearing disguises. Section 1302 describes trespass and Section 1303 is about assaults while wearing disguises. These sections of the law were originally passed in 1923-24 session and was in response to the KKK. There were changes in the late 90’s. Please remember that OKC was impacted by a bombing in 1995.

Second – the bill that you refer to is an amendment to the laws on the books. The total length of the bill is two pages, but the changes amount to 45 new words. Your analysis of the bill does not even include all of these words. And, do you not know of the concept of strikeout and additions in a document, especially when changing something?

I could only wish that Congress would do the strikeout and additions in their bills. See the healthcare bill as an example.

So, let’s “jump in” as you mentioned…. your header. Really, a “hoodie ban” – thanks for saying in the fifth paragraph that the bill does not explicitly ban hooded sweatshirts. The law in Section 1301 mentions “hood” twice and one could assume that they were referring to the KKK hoods and not sweatshirts that also have a pull-up head covering. To me, a “hood” is a full face covering, not something that covers the head.

Then, you mention that the OK lawmakers have too much time on their hands – well, maybe. They are in session from February to May. The other months can be spent at other jobs or talking with the people that they represent. However, there is a window of time to present bills – from December to January.

Ok, you mention that a “group of elected officials” want to ban hoodies – sorry – but the amendment was presented by one person and still needs to go through committees, then the senate, then the house, then a reconciliation, etc. and it still needs to be signed by the governor. Gees, isn’t that a normal routine about making laws?

Ok, then your next paragraph about the text of the bill. Funny, you forgot to show what was the current bill vs. the new portion – remember the strikeout/addition bit? Section B is the addition and to me is repeating what was said in the first section. If you are wearing a disguise in public, you are probably trying to coerce, intimidate or harass.

In comparison, people talk about the need for a bill to ban texting while driving. Ok, we already have a bill about distracted driving. To me, distracted driving includes driving while texting, shaving, putting on makeup, turning around to talk to the people in the back seat. “Distracted” covers a lot of activity. Do we need to list every possible occurrence?

Then, you mention the exceptions. You are obviously relying that people will not go to the document since it happens to include coverings required by religious belief, safety or medical purposes or incidental to protection from the weather. And, it also included sporting groups and mascots.

Further down, you mention the “crisis”. In Oklahoma, once a bill is passed, it becomes law 90 days after the session is over. If it is passed under the “emergency” clause, then it is effective when the governor signs the bill into law. I’m sure that there are other states that have this distinction about timing of implementation.

And then there is your paragraph thinking that concerned citizens of Oklahoma are going to file police reports and lawsuits over someone wearing a sweatshirt in cold weather because they “just don’t know what to think”. Really?

If I complain to police about someone wearing a disguise and they don’t see it that way, it’s not going anywhere in the court system. They know that they have better things to do.

Heck, let’s flip this – it could even be protecting people. Cowboy Pete won’t have to worry about going down to Norman. The bomb squad won’t be stressed out about a lawsuit since they are so scary. Oh no, the surgical masks that my doctor wears. Oh, don’t forget about the various religious headwear. Those nuns – the trauma I endured as a child!

As I write this, there were six comments. Ok – a clown costume was allowed in the 1923-4 act, so it is not illegal. Great, a business can “ban masks”, but if the person is intending to commit a crime, or coerce, intimidate or harass, it is already covered by existing law. Hey Paul in Texas, check on your own politicians. They do some pretty stupid stuff. Who was that character in pink shoes??? Rinardman – you didn’t check the link since religious headwear was exempted, finally. As the law stands, if someone in a burqa comes up and intimidates me, I could ask the police to charge that person under the existing section. Malclave – part A is already law.

So, Amy, please, please do a bit more research and don’t rely on TV stations to present a balanced story. Read the original law, know what is being amended (the strikeout and addition thing, gees, that’s been around forever!). A

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Liz. | January 9, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    Ouch, lol.

      ok.. when I get pissed, I get pissed. Dad would be proud, my Mom would probably be saying “Do you really need to say that in those words….” Or maybe, it’s the reverse… Dad would say to be careful and Mom would be going
      “right on!” I grew up in those conflicted years…..;-)

    Liz in reply to Liz. | January 9, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    OK – I did not check Amy’s bio before I wrote my analysis.
    It appears that Amy is an attorney. That makes some issues even more awful…. I am being very nice on that wording. My father was an attorney and I have very high standards because of him.

    What you wrote was to make people react, but it was based on something that was false – either in fact or by not stating what was true. To me, this is evil. It is not RIGHT.

    Ok – you got to mock someone – why? Was it worth it? Do you want me to check out what the guys do down in Texas? I’m sure that there is plenty of BS that is proposed but never make it through the review stages.

    Go ahead mock what other people do. As far as I am concerned, what you do is BS.

      Ragspierre in reply to Liz. | January 10, 2015 at 9:01 am

      I agree, Liz. The law is a WHOLE lot more sensible than Amy’s critique of it is.

      And here’s a very old, well-established fact about human nature…

      A mask has a profound and often very dark effect on a person’s behavior. Why do you think a masked ball or masquerade was such a great opportunity for people to go rutting?

    Grand Old Partier in reply to Liz. | January 10, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I was preparing my own rebuttal to this “analysis” by Ms, Miller but am thankful that you have already done it. As an Oklahoman, I’ve been cringing every time this alleged “hoodie ban” has been announced ad nauseum by state and local news media and all it’s done is stir the pot of the perpetually offended and outraged on the left.

    If anything, it’s stacking the deck for LEOs to add charges to crimes that are committed with the hope that longer sentences can be handed out to criminals, much the same way the drug stamp did for possession and sale of marijuana.

One of retailers’ biggest investments is in theft protection, primarily shoplifting. Much of that investment goes into videocam surveillance, which provides real-time surveillance for store security and evidence for law enforcement. Covering one’s face negates identification by video and only an immediate physical capture stops the thief. Videocams are everywhere, not just in stores and parking lots.

So, business and law enforcement would favor this law.

A good article might discuss issues of privacy rights, whether we have a right to hide our faces in public. A bad article might misrepresent the actual law and then snark/mock the strawman thus created.

Snark over substance. Clicky-clicky-clickbait. Sigh.