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Several news outlets published articles in the last few days with a similar headline on a proposed amendment to an Oklahoma law. Just one problem, though. The existing law already potentially punishes hoodie-wearers with up to a $500 fine.
Time, ThinkProgress, Huffington Post, Fusion and Uproxx all aggregated their information from the same local sources: Channel 4 and Channel 6. Both of these local news articles are highly speculative and neglect to clearly lay out the facts. Wearing hoodies while committing a crime has been illegal in Oklahoma since the 1920s.
The original law, established in 1923, says it is unlawful for any person in Oklahoma “to wear a mask, hood or covering, which conceals the identity of the wearer during the commission of a crime or for the purpose of coercion, intimidation or harassment.” It was intended as a deterrent against the then-ascendent Ku Klux Klan.
The revision proposed in December would add a provision making it illegal for anyone “to intentionally conceal his or her identity in a public place by means of a robe, mask, or other disguise.” The amendment just adds the “intentional” aspect.
While KFOR argues that the proposed amendment is racist against “hoodie users,” what it fails to emphasize with equal footing is that it was already illegal for people committing crimes to wear hoodies. The new amendment adds that it is illegal for someone to “intentionally conceal” his or her identity in public while wearing a hoodie.
The amendment does add fuel to the fire if a racist cop wants to arrest a man for wearing a hoodie, but it does not make it automatically illegal and punishable with a fine of up to $500 to wear a hoodie, as so many news outlets suggest. Moreover, it may be legally impossible to convict someone wearing a hoodie under the current law, as “intent” is a very tricky word.
The amendment excludes people wearing the mask, hood or covering because of weather, religious beliefs, parades or Halloween celebrations.
One group, however, could find themselves in some rather deep water with the repurposed law: protesters. As we’ve seen in recent demonstrations from Occupy Wall Street to the nationwide response to the Michael Brown and Eric Garner killings, protesters are covering their faces more so than ever before—members of Anonymous in particular. Under this extension of the existing law, such demonstrators would be committing a crime simply by showing up. While the original law targeted a different kind of political activist—KKK members—its new iteration could put more progressive demonstrators in the crosshairs.
The cops will just smile and say i am just doing my job. My hands are tied. At some point i think they should have some personal morals and say i refuse to uphold certain laws. There seems like there has to be some point where they reject what they are being told to do for money in the name of justice and peace.
Wearing hoodies while committing a crime has been illegal in Oklahoma since the 1920s.
The original law, established in 1923, says it is unlawful for any person in Oklahoma “to wear a mask, hood or covering, which conceals the identity of the wearer during the commission of a crime or for the purpose of coercion, intimidation or harassment.”