In Oklahoma, a ban on wearing hoodies in public could become a reality. CNN reports that republican senator Don Barrington's bill, SB 13, would make it illegal “to wear ‘a robe, mask or other disguise’ in public that would ‘intentionally conceal the wearer's identity.’” Violators could face a fine of up to $500.
According to Oklahoma's KOTV, the bill was introduced because of complaints about robberies by men wearing hooded sweatshirts. Barrington stated, “Oklahoma businesses want state leaders to be responsive to their safety concerns, and this is one way we can provide protection.”
The senator also told KFOR-TV, “The intent of Senate Bill 13 is to make businesses and public places safer by ensuring that people cannot conceal their identities for the purpose of crime or harassment.”
“Similar language has been in Oklahoma statutes for decades and numerous other states have similar laws in place,” he continued. “Oklahoma businesses want state leaders to be responsive to their safety concerns, and this is one way we can provide protection.”
The ACLU of Oklahoma released a statement against the bill, which you can read below via KFOR-TV:
“This bill is an affront to fundamental rights, including the rights of free speech and privacy. No one should worry about retaliation or retribution because they choose to attend a rally or a protest, which is precisely why the First Amendment protects anonymous speech in these instances. It is no less concerning that such a vague and overly-broad law would invite selective enforcement and over-policing of otherwise law-abiding people. For lawmakers who campaign against Government overreach, voting against this bill would be a great way to practice what they preach,” stated Ryan Kiesel, executive director of ACLU of Oklahoma.
“Here in Oklahoma, it has been illegal to use a hood, mask, or disguise for criminal conduct for over 90 years. This bill does nothing whatsoever to strengthen that law or to prevent or punish crime. Instead, this bill specifically targets only law-abiding individuals. Worse yet, the bill explicitly attempts to criminalize protected First Amendment rights. This bill would turn Oklahoma law enforcement into literally “the fashion police.” What it proposes is both unnecessary and unconstitutional. Instead of bringing criminals to justice, this bill is far more likely to land the State of Oklahoma in the courtroom,” added Brady Henderson, legal director of ACLU of Oklahoma.
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