Sunday, June 23, 2024

Op-Ed Writers See Ski Mask Ban Criminalizing Black and Brown Youths | VIDEOs

Black Full Face Cover Thermal Ski Ma / Photo: Amazon
Black Full Face Cover Thermal Ski Ma / Photo: Amazon

*The Philadelphia City Council’s ban on ski masks is doing more harm than good for Black and brown youth, with troubling consequences on the way, according to a recent op-ed from Teen Vogue.

Weighing in on the issue, writers Kristin Henning and Vic Wiener cite comments made by youth advocates who labeled the ban as an attack on culture.

“In stark contrast, there have been no similar efforts to ban the neck gaiters, khaki pants, and polo shirts prominently worn by far-right neo-fascist groups like the Proud Boys and the Patriot Front,” the pair voiced. “Whatever the justification, by dictating what young people can wear, fashion bans may violate the First Amendment right to freedom of expression.

The op-ed comes months after the ban was made official after the City Council passed a bill in December 2023 prohibiting the use of ski masks in parks, schools, public transit or other city-owned buildings, according to CNN.

Although the move was praised for helping police solve crimes, it has come under fire from Philadelphia teens and civil rights advocates who feel it will criminalize people of color. Under the bill, which was signed into law by Mayor Jim Kenney, offenders will be fined $250 for each offense, and up to $2,000 if a mask is worn during the commission of a crime, CNN noted

For Henning and Wiener, the ban only spells trouble as “the next in a series of tough-on-crime policies that disproportionately affect Black and brown youth.” They pointed out the contrast in the law as it comes amid a decrease in crime around the country and politicians using the ban for their personal and political gain.

“As narratives about youth crime continue to get play in the media despite evidence that crime, including violent crime, is plummeting almost everywhere in the country, and data showing that adults commit the vast majority of crime, politicians use harsh policies like the mask ban to show they are doing something,” Wiener and Henning wrote. “Other similar policies include expanded curfews and harsher penalties for a range of offenses. Performative policies like these are not evidence-based practices that reduce crime generally or among youth.”

The duo referenced the influence of hip-hop artists in popularizing ski masks as a fashion accessory among Black and brown youth.

“Ski mask bans enable unnecessary and harmful police interactions because they provide an excuse for police to stop youth,” Henning and Wiener said. “

“Even though Philadelphia’s ban carries a civil fine rather than a criminal penalty, it allows police to stop, question, and frisk youth without reasonable suspicion that the young person is engaging in criminal activity — the level of suspicion the Constitution requires for police to justify a stop,” the scribes voiced. “Police interactions cause and exacerbate trauma, especially for the youth of color. Further, police interactions with youth can go from 0 to 100 in a second. Youth who experience or witness excessive or aggressive police contact in their community may become anxious, evasive, and even defiant toward the police. An officer who misinterprets a child’s fear, attitude, “back talk,” or physical resistance as a threat may tackle and restrain the youth, handcuff them, and charge them with a crime far more serious than wearing a ski mask.

Overall, the writers feel crime will continue, regardless of the ski mask ban. To truly make an impact and reduce the crime rate, Henning and Wiener suggest an approach that benefits everyone.

“If we really want to reduce crime, let’s invest in children, families, schools, and communities instead of criminalizing teenagers and their fashion.”

To read the op-ed in its entirety, click here.

MORE NEWS ON EURWEB: R. Kelly Finds Himself Banned from Philly by City Council – Video

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