New Cocoa mayor iffy on saggy pants ban

Mayor Henry Parrish believes ban could have high costs, legal fights

(CNN image)

COCOA, Fla. – The newly elected Cocoa mayor said the city council should reconsider the law banning saggy pants before it goes into effect Jan. 1.

Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports mayor Henry Parrish is concerned the measure could lead to a costly legal fight if the ordinance is contested in court.

"We are asking for trouble," Parrish told Florida Today. "I believe this would open the city to a big lawsuit. Defending it is going to cost taxpayers a lot of money."

Parrish called for a special meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday for the council to reconsider the ordinance that will ban pants or skirts that expose underwear or skin more than 3 inches below the waistline.

The law would only be enforced on streets, sidewalks and other city property. Although it was passed in October, enforcement was delayed to educate the community about the ordinance.

Two of the three council members who voted in favor of the ordinance, Mike Blake and Jake Williams, were replaced after the November election by Parrish and Councilwoman Brenda Warner.

The mayor wants the opportunity to decide on the ordinance before it goes in to effect.

City Attorney Anthony Garganese was asked to prepare an ordinance to repeal the law in case the council makes that decision Tuesday.

The president of the Central Brevard Branch of the NAACP, Alberta Wilson, has lobbied for overturning the ordinance.

"I am adamantly against young people walking around looking like that, it is degrading," Wilson told Florida Today. "However, that does not allow any municipality or any other government entity to infringe people's civil rights."

The ordinance calls for a civil fine of $25 for first written citation after an initial verbal warning from police or code enforcement staff.

Wilson feels the law creates unreasonable probable cause for law enforcement to engage individuals on the street.

The mayor also is worried that enforcement could be seen as profiling.

"I believe if we let it go into law, it is going to put us in a position where we are going to be perceived as possibly stereotyping individuals," Parrish said.