Reuters / Marko Djurica
Oklahoma lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban wearing a mask, hood or other types of face covering in the state’s public spaces. If the bill passes, it would join similar bans in other states.
Introduced by the chair of the Oklahoma’s public safety committee, state senator Don Barrington (R), the bill is intended “to deter crime, making it unlawful to wear a mask, hood or covering during the commission of a crime or to intentionally conceal a person’s identity in a public place.” The reasoning behind the bill is to cut down the number of masked robberies and crimes.
There are some exceptions to the bill, as it wouldn’t apply to the pranks of children on Halloween, those participating in masquerade parties or public parades, against “those wearing coverings required by their religious beliefs,” or against masks/facial coverings worn for medical purposes.
Violating the law would result in a misdemeanor charge and, upon conviction, a fine of $50 to $500 or imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year. People could also face both a fine and imprisonment.
There are similar laws already on the books in to other states around the country, including Florida, California, New York and Washington, DC, according to Oklahoma-based Channel 6. Hoodies are often not allowed at high schools and several banks including PNC and Provident. Cross Country Federal Savings Bank, meanwhile, bans both hoodies and sunglasses, but the prohibitions are rarely enforced.
Proponents say hoodie bans help deter crime by preventing people from hiding their identity while entering a store or other public space, but critics of the measure argue that such laws restrict free expression and exacerbate problems with racial profiling in communities of color.
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