Toure: The Fashion of Stop and Frisk

by | Dec 8, 2023 | Opinion

The Philadelphia City Council passed a bill recently that bans ski masks in parks, schools, public transit, day care centers and city owned buildings. A move they say will help law enforcement solve crimes.

The bill, passed by a 13-2 vote, will fine “offenders” $250 for each “offense” and up to $2,000 if a mask is worn during the commission of a crime (more money for the mask than the crime apparently.)

Philadelphia’s current mayor, Jim Kenney, is expected to sign it into law this week according to council member Anthony Phillips. Phillips is who drafted the “mask off” ordinance has been supported overwhelmingly by the council and the main proponent of this push. Philly’s New Democrat mayor elect, Cherelle Parker.

Now I get it, it seems like it’s common sense to KNOW that targeting fashion choices with fines and increasing tensions between law enforcement and citizens is a DUMB idea. Just as dumb as wearing these types of masks all over the place is. But unfortunately common sense isn’t all too common in certain municipalities lately.

So in risk of beating a dead horse and preaching to the choir, let’s explain a few ways this new “law” is useless, goofy and a potentially HUGE waste of tax dollars.

Let’s go back to 2020.

Remember way back then when “Covid masks” were “mandatory” pretty much in ALL of these same areas? Remember how you were almost dubbed a “criminal” or “granny killer” if you didn’t have some sort of face covering?

These “mask mandates” along with Hip Hop culture’s penchant for turning strange clothing accessories into fashion icons is what created this era of “masks are okay.” Because of this, young guys in Philly said, “You’re gonna make me wear a mask? Cool. This is the mask I choose.”

Rebellious Hip Hop at its FINEST.

But now, after losing TONS of money from business shutdowns, jab mandates and other nonsense….City council’s focus again?  MASKS. But in reverse.

Not job creation, not even crime reduction as they SAY this legislation will help with. The same masks they said “had to be worn” a little while ago. Contradiction point number one of this useless legislation.

Contradiction point number two? Stop and Frisk.

City council member Isaiah Thomas said in the press conference around this legislation that “this is about helping law enforcement identify guys that commit crimes.”

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Now let’s think of that for a second….

Local government is openly advocating to target certain people and group them ALL with suspicion of criminal activity. Dumb move.

Having law enforcement target young men and saying “give me your ID so I can write you a ticket for $250 because you have a mask on in the winter time” is equally dumb.

Speaking of winter time, Winter in Philadelphia gets cold. Obviously wearing a mask in 80° degree weather (as some young people do) is plain old stupid but in winter where temperatures can get below zero, people wearing ski masks isn’t out of the ordinary.

So now law enforcement officers (who’ll probably attempt to ticket “violators” outside the designated banned areas) will now engage rowdy young people who are undoubtedly going to be annoyed by being asked to “take that mask off while I ticket you” in the middle of winter.

Procedure for the targeting? Stop the mask wearer, engage, get a positive ID. Any “weird” movements lead to “justification” for “probable cause” which leads to a search.

Also known as? STOP AND FRISK.

How is this for citizen/law enforcement relations? Horrible. How does the city expect to handle the upcoming law suits that will undoubtedly come from this? Taxpayer dollars.

And the cycle of stupidity continues.

City council, the upcoming and current mayor ACTUALLY thought “Let’s stop and frisk young people because of their fashion choices, what a great idea.” Those types of “great ideas” are why very little changes for the better. It’s not logical, constitutional or even commonsensical.

This isn’t complicated folks.

Our way of life is individual freedom and liberty. That way of life was signed into the framework of the nation IN PHILADELPHIA.

That framework was to LIMIT government overreach. And yes, that includes blocking overreach into stupid things we dislike. Like ski masks being worn for no weather based reason.

When we support, champion and don’t critique or remove overreaching legislation we are doing the EXACT opposite of what the founders intended.

Legislation that attempts to criminalize and or fine the people for fashion as a means to generate revenue via fear mongering is the HEIGHT of constitutional contradiction. We’ve gotta be honest about and oppose that. I mean, if we’re still capable of using common sense.

Maj Toure is the president and founder of Black Guns Matter. You can follow him on X at @MajToure999.

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