Some interpret bill banning robes or masks in public spaces to include hooded sweatshirts
Republican state Sen. Don Barrington says bill "not designed to ban hoodies"
An Oklahoma lawmaker says people will not be fined $500 for wearing hooded sweatshirts in public, despite some interpretations of a proposed law concerning hoods and masks.
It is already against the law in Oklahoma to wear a “mask, hood or covering” that conceals the wearer’s identity during the commission of a crime or for the purpose of harassment or intimidation.
Republican state Sen. Don Barrington’s SB 13 would make it a crime to wear a “robe, mask or other disguise” in public that would “intentionally conceal the wearer’s identity.” Violators would face fines from $50 to $500.
Since the bill was introduced in December, some have interpreted it to include hooded sweatshirts, or “hoodies.” Media reports have also said that the bill includes “hoodies,” though it is not immediately clear from where this interpretation came.
But Barrington points out that the word “hoodie” is not mentioned in the legislation, except for the reference to hoods in the first section.
“The bill is not designed to ban hoodies, but to prevent the wearing of masks or disguises in the commission of a crime,” Barrington said in a statement.
The measure provides a number of exceptions, including religious garments, Halloween celebrations, parades, weather protection and other circumstances. Because hooded garments, or hoodies, are often worn as weather protection and not for the purposes of intentional concealment, it is unlikely they would be considered a disguise under the bill, he said in an email.
“The proposal is intended to protect law abiding citizens, not limit their rights,” he said. “This is simply an attempt to combat crime and make businesses and public spaces safer for everyone.”
No states or counties have active legislation banning hooded sweatshirts or “hoodies.” But schools, businesses and government buildings have been able to institute their own bans on hooded sweatshirts.
The bill will be considered when Oklahoma’s legislative session begins in February. It has to be heard and passed out of committee during the early weeks of February to move onto to the full Senate and then the Oklahoma House.