Is It a Crime to Wear Baggy Pants?

"These types of ordinances are obviously aimed at African-American male youth," says Holly Dickson, staff attorney for the ACLU in Arkansas, who warns attempts to enforce them could bring court challenges over racial profiling.

In several cities with large black populations, black leaders are pushing the measures. In Atlanta, City Councilman C.T. Martin says he's trying to raise standards and instill values in today's youth.

"Bill Cosby started this conversation, and we let him down," Martin says, referring to the comedian's controversial criticism of the parenting skills, grammar and values of poor blacks.

Martin says his proposed ordinance has drawn 2 million visitors to his website, where he says an online survey shows 9-to-1 favor it. A task force is examining the issue, with a hearing to follow later this fall.

In Pine Bluff, another black leader, Mayor Carl Redus, spoke at a public hearing two weeks ago and persuaded the city council to kill plans for a no-sagging ordinance. He didn't want to spend taxpayer dollars defending the ordinance in court, and warned that police time shouldn't be tied up in writing tickets for baggy pants.

"We must put forth legislation that works to the good of all," Redus says. "We're not the parents of this community."

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