Lawmakers In Philadelphia Vote To Ban Ski Masks In Parks, Schools, Public Transport & Other Public Places
4 Dec 2023
Lawmakers in the US city of Philadelphia have voted to ban people wearing ski masks in some public places in an effort to hit back against crime.
The Philadelphia City Council passed a bill 13-2 last Thursday that prohibits the use of ski masks in parks, schools, public transport or other city-owned buildings.
Scheduled to sign off on the bill this week, Mayor Jim Kenney’s office told the press, “The administration will review the legislation, and in the meantime looks forward to our ongoing work with City Council on the urgent matter of ensuring public safety.”
People who don’t abide by the new law will be fined $250 with the only exceptions being for religious garb and protests.
Philadelphia Police Department Deputy Commissioner Francis Healy said the proliferated use of face coverings post pandemic had complicated policing.
“There was a time not so long ago when any average police officer would see a person donning a mask before entering a convenience store or a bank and they would believe a robbery was about to occur,” Healy said. “However, the pandemic changed that mindset where people were actually more fearful of people without masks than with masks. Although mask mandates are no longer required, some people continue to wear ski masks with the intention of concealing their identities when committing crimes”
Healy added: “Criminals have continued using masks to avoid capture and it remains problematic, so the department fully supports the intent and rationale behind this ordinance”.
Those who wear one while committing a crime will be slapped with a $2,000 fee as well as any other legal ramifications following the act.
Jetson Cruz, an activist with the Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project, told the council on Thursday that the legislation would give police “another reason to stop and harass people.”
“Right now, me wearing this, doesn’t mean I’m about to go commit a crime or do anything wrong,” he said. “I honestly feel like this is just a reason to target the young people.”