The students were harshly reprimanded for wearing baggy pants with a low waistband to their high school. The unwitting millennials were charged with indecent exposure and a hefty $250 fine each. Antonio Ammons, one of four teens who were charged, lived with his great-grandmother at the time and intimated to WMC that he had no idea where the money would come from.
The punishment occurred in November of 2015 at the height of baggy pants sovereignty; was this divisive trend finally getting its comeuppance, or was the punishment too harsh?
— WTVM News Leader 9 (@WTVM) December 10, 2015
“I just took it and went on,” Ammons told WMC. “I didn’t know what else to do.” Ammons had never been arrested before and was placed in a cell with other inmates, but the school’s resource officer Deputy Charles Woods said he had warned the offending teens several times before for violating the school’s dress code.
“I really didn’t like it,” Ammons said, referring to his 48 hours behind bars in the Hardeman County Criminal Justice Complex. The teen even showed WMC news cameras what the offending outfit had looked like; his pants were slung low with the waistband of his underwear and gym shorts visible.
According to Deputy Woods, Ammons had previously been suspended from BCHS for “showing gang related/hate violence or intimidation,” Fox29 reported. But despite Ammons’s history, jail time was deemed excessive by some of the student’s peers and their parents.
One parent, Crystal Wing, suggested that “jail time might be a little too much. But at the same time,” she added, “there has been a lot of sagging pants.” Senior Jordan Perry spoke on behalf of a certain cohort who believed that “some kind of punishment” was necessary. However, “I don’t think it’s necessary to go to jail for saggy pants,” Perry clarified.
— News 6 WKMG (@news6wkmg) December 14, 2015
The baggy pants brigade themselves remained notably quiet, but some other teens spoke up in their defense, claiming that jail time was just a little too harsh. “They didn’t need to go to that extreme,” student Cheyenne Lindsey shared with the news cameras, although only two of the four students charged (one being Ammons) served jail time.
According to Attorney Leslie Ballin, saggy pants did not constitute “indecent exposure” under Tennessee law at the time. While many appreciated Deputy Woods’s strong lesson in social conduct to the clueless teens, the severe sentencing also left a lot of head scratching in its wake.
Kansas City Preacher Bishop John Birmingham, dubbed the “Saggy Pants Ban Leader” by KMBC News, got wind of the BCHS low-riding pants debacle and took the opportunity to start a campaign of his own. He took his crusade to Kansas City voters, asking for their signatures to ban these displays of “public indecency” citywide.
“A lot of folk are very offended at this fashion,” Birmingham stated. “You don’t have to do it […] It’s our right not to look at your underwear!” Do saggy pants indicate a lack of respect for self, and others? Birmingham thought so. He advocated a warning followed by a stiff fine for repeat offenders.
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) December 14, 2015
In 2013, the Town Council of Wildwood, New Jersey, voted unanimously to ban saggy pants from the boardwalk. Huffpost reported that in early 2015, a city council member in Dadeville, Alabama, fronted a saggy pants ban proposal because “God would not go around with pants down.”
And in 2016, the town of Timmonsville, South Carolina, introduced a saggy pants ban and a heavy fine of up to $600 for anybody caught violating the rule.
Maybe it will catch on.