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Senator Barrington And The ACLU Respond To The Proposed "Hoodie" Bill

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A state senator who says he was trying to protect law enforcement has instead come under fire from people who think he's trying to ban hoodies in Oklahoma.

State Senator Don Barrington proposed SB0013. KGOU reported the story on January 4th

Other stories about it were featured on Jan. 3rd by the Huffington Post among others, and discussed by the Fox News Channel. The stories in various media suggested that “(W)earing a hoodie in Oklahoma could soon cost you a $500 fine.” 

As KGOU’s story noted, Barrington's bill doesn't mention hoodies, but would make it illegal for someone to conceal his or her identity in public by using a "robe, mask, or other disguise.”

The AP says the language would amend a section of law originally targeting the Ku Klux Klan. The proposed legislation adds a new paragraph to State Statute 21-1301, making it illegal to "intentionally conceal his or her identity in a public place by means of a robe, mask, or other disguise.”

Senator Barrington of Lawton says his office has been flooded with calls and emails since stories began circulating on social media about a bill he introduced ahead of the upcoming legislative session.

Barrington says he was prompted in part by mask-wearing protesters who rallied at the Capitol in recent years and caused problems for security.

“The bill is not designed to ban hoodies, but to prevent the wearing of masks or disguises in the commission of a crime,” said Barrington. “Similar language has been in state statutes for many years, and a number of states have laws created for the same purpose. The proposal is intended to protect law abiding citizens, not limit their rights.”

Meanwhile, the ACLU of Oklahoma has reacted to the proposed legislation.

Ryan Kiesel, ACLU of Oklahoma Executive Director said, “This bill is an affront to fundamental rights, including the rights of free speech and privacy. No one should worry about retaliation or retribution because they choose to attend a rally or a protest, which is precisely why the First Amendment protects anonymous speech in these instances. It is no less concerning that such a vague and overly-broad law would invite selective enforcement and over-policing of otherwise law-abiding people. For lawmakers who campaign against Government overreach, voting against this bill would be a great way to practice what they preach.”

Brady Henderson, ACLU of Oklahoma Legal Director also said, “Here in Oklahoma, it has been illegal to use a hood, mask, or disguise for criminal conduct for over 90 years. This bill does nothing whatsoever to strengthen that law or to prevent or punish crime. Instead, this bill specifically targets only law-abiding individuals. Worse yet, the bill explicitly attempts to criminalize protected First Amendment rights. This bill would turn Oklahoma law enforcement into literally ‘the fashion police.’ What it proposes is both unnecessary and unconstitutional. Instead of bringing criminals to justice, this bill is far more likely to land the State of Oklahoma in the courtroom.”

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