US & Canada

Sagging trousers ban in South Carolina leads to 'race profile' fears

Two youths wear their pants with underwear showing on April 23, 2009 in Riviera Beach, Florida Image copyright Getty Images

A town in the US state of South Carolina has banned the wearing of sagging trousers, an offence that may now lead to a $600 (£462) fine.

Timmonsville, a town of only 2,000 people, passed the order on Tuesday. A first offence leads to a verbal warning, a second to a written warning and a third to a fine of $100-600.

Similar orders were previously made in towns in Florida and Louisiana.

One council official said the ban would lead to racial profiling.

In 2007, officials in Delcambre, Louisiana, said their ban was not racist.

In pictures: Sagging trousers

The style is popular with hip-hop artists. The New York Times reported that the style originated from oversized prison outfits, given without belts to avoid suicide attempts.

The Timmonsville order, published by the Florence News newspaper, reads:

"It shall be unlawful for any person driving or walking the streets and roads of the town of Timmonsville to:

(a) engage in public nudity;

(b) display pornographic material such that others are unwantingly exposed to the same or that minors are able to view the same;

(c) display the flesh of one's rear-end, behind or backside during stationary or movement within the city limits;

(d) wear pants, trousers, or shorts such that the known undergarments are intentional displayed/exposed to the public."

"Young children do what they see," Timmonsville Mayor William James Jr was quoted as saying by the Florence News.

"If they see older guys doing that, they're going to grow up and think that it's right. We need to put a stop to it. I understand there's a such thing as fads, but this has gone on way too long."

One member of the council, Cheryl Qualls, objected to the order, saying: "It will increase racial profiling on some of our children here in Timmonsville and across the country," according to South Carolina's The State newspaper.

Sagging trousers were often more expensive, and used as a status symbol, she said.

Ocala city council in Florida overturned its ban on sagging trousers two years ago.

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