Is it a fashion statement or is it against the law? Some Chicago area kids who wear their pants low could soon be slapped with a fine up to $750. CBS 2's Vince Gerasole reports on the suburb trying to "Stop the Sag."
"Jo-Mo," who was walking around Chicago with the waistline of his jeans around his thighs, said, "Man, my pants, sometimes they sag and hang low."
Jo-Mo is not alone when it comes to butt- and thigh-hugging waistlines exposing a top layer of underwear.
Another young man named "Asti" also showed CBS 2 how he wears his pants with the belt well below his waist.
But that's right where authorities in Evanston might draw the line.
The fashion trend, called sagging or swagging, is under review by the Evanston's Human Relations Commission. Some worry it amounts to public nudity and should be subject to fines between $10 and $750.
"I bought my clothes. How can somebody tell me how to wear my clothes?" Asti said.
Apparently, this all came about when Evanston police arrested a man in his 40s. When he raised his hands, his swagging pants fell to the ground.
From New York – where a state lawmaker has paid for a billboard lobbying for a low pants ban – to communities in the South, anti-sagging ordinances are popping up across the country. They often link the look to explicit rap and gang violence.
American Civil Liberties Union spokesman Edwin Yohnka said, "Frankly, government shouldn't be telling us how to dress."
The ACLU said such bans are an unconstitutional limit on free expression.
"If they create an ordinance, so if their pants exposing X amount of underwear, so what are the police going to do, carry around rulers and then you start stopping and questioning and measuring?" Yohnka said.
But it's a fashion statement that Sheila Sulton called "disgusting."
"No one wants to see what color drawers you have on. That's just nasty," she said.
Travel to any high school and you'll notice teens in particular sagging and swagging.
"There's a whole other side of swagging, where athletes wear sweatpants and they're wearing their shorts out, that's what I do," said student Abe Dube.
Another student said his parents don't mind his sagging pants.
"If a kid got fined, I'm sure he would just come back a week later, probably the next day, and start swagging again," he said. "You're not gonna stop swagging."
Another student says there's a respectful way to do it.
"You don't got to be all out there like the thugs and stuff," he said.
The proposal in Evanston is still in its early stages. City Council members plan on holding a series of pubic meetings before taking action.
Evanston would not be the first community in our area to make such a move. Lynwood enacted a similar ordinance a few years ago. Wear your pants too low there, and you'll be fined $25.
h/t to AV Club Chicago