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Controversial Saggy Pants PSA Gets Mixed Reaction in Western Mass

Screen Shot 2013-01-25 at 5.06.01 PMSPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) –The Black Mental Health Alliance of Massachusetts says it’s a behavioral health issue for young men to walk around with their pants sagging. Under state law it could be considered an offense punishable by a fine, even jail time. “This is a mental health issue. This is leading these kids to think that all their whole gang mentality; they should be gangster and all that craziness,” said Dr. Omar Reid, founder of the alliance. He says the message is specifically aimed at the black community in hopes that it will provoke a change. Dr. Reid is also ready to take the heat the video has already been getting. “I think it’s ridiculous, I think there’s other ways that we can go about empowering our youth and teaching them how to dress appropriately,” Qiana Johnson said.

The group released the PSA Thursday in an effort to discourage young people from sagging their pants, citing that you can get fined up to $300, even face up to 3 years behind bars for it.

The PSA cites MA General Law Section 272 Chapter 16, which states that a man or woman, married or unmarried, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 3 years, or in jail for not more than two years or by a fine of more than $300.

A supervisor at the Holyoke Police Department told me he thinks arresting people for sagging their pants could be a stretch under that law, even though it could be considered a lewd act.

Of course this video has been getting a lot of mixed reaction, and at the W.E.B. Du Bois Academy in Springfield, it’s no different. “It’s kind of hurtful, stressful, because that’s how most of us black men in Springfield are portrayed, even though most of us don’t,” lamented 17 year-old Travis Russell. “It doesn’t make any sense that people sag their pants. It doesn’t make them look cool, it makes them look dumb,” 16 year-old Jahleel Gabriel stated. “I think it definitely points to the home and monitor how our children are dressed,” said Len Camano, a mentor at the academy.

The same supervisor with the Holyoke Police Department notes that while they do enforce the laws. He said he personally wouldn’t make that arrest, because it would also crowd the court system.

However, Dr. Reid noted that he has also been getting a lot of positive feedback from the PSA.


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