An Oklahoma state senator wants to ban people from wearing hoodies – or even masks – in public, which if enacted would no doubt have a chilling effect on free speech, especially at protests.
Sen. Don Barrington (R-Lawton) recently introduced Senate Bill 13, which prohibits people from intentionally concealing their identities “in a public place by means of a robe, mask, or other disguise.”
“The intent of Senate Bill 13 is to make businesses and public places safer by ensuring that people cannot conceal their identities for the purpose of crime or harassment,” he said according to KFOR. “Similar language has been in Oklahoma statutes for decades and numerous other states have similar laws in place.”
Barrington is referring to an existing state law which bans criminals from wearing hoodies or masks in the commission of a crime, but his bill would completely ban wearing hoodies and masks in public anyplace, anytime with few exceptions.
And one of the “numerous other states” Barrington is referring to is Florida, where it’s illegal to wear “a mask, hood, or other device on public way.”
Florida police used the law, which was enacted in the 1920s to combat the Ku Klux Klan, to bust one of their own in 2013 when a cop was arrested for wearing a Guy Fawkes mask at a protest, so there’s no doubt a “hoodie ban” in Oklahoma would also lead to similar arrests at protests where demonstrators wear masks to protect their jobs and privacy.
However, the bill excludes hoodies worn in inclement weather and masks worn during Halloween.
“I think this is a violation of an individual’s right to chose what they want to wear as long as it doesn’t violate the realm of public decency and moral values, and I think this could be very problematic,” Oklahoma City attorney James Siderias said.