December 6, 2023
Philadelphia has been experiencing higher than normal levels of violent crime.
On Nov. 30, the Philadelphia City Council passed an ordinance that effectively bans ski masks or balaclavas from being worn in public, a move that has drawn criticism and concern from both citizens and groups like the ACLU.
The Associated Press reports that the legislation passed by the Philadelphia City Council will head to the desk of lame duck Mayor Jim Kenney, a Democrat, for approval or veto.
Philadelphia has been experiencing higher than normal levels of violent crime, like most metropolitan cities across the country, in part because social support programs were suspended during the pandemic. Though the legislation does make some concessions for First Amendment protections and gives religious exemptions, the ACLU is still concerned that the legislation tramples on the constitutional rights of citizens.
“Giving police the authority to stop civilians without suspicion of unlawful activity is unconstitutional,” Solomon Furious Woods, an attorney for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, told the AP.
Philadelphia is not the only city considering how to best approach violent crime while ensuring that there accountability for officers who cross the line into police brutality. Washington, D.C., which has been experiencing a violent crime wave of its own, is also grappling with these tensions. To that effect, Mayor Muriel Bowser has been touting her proposals in the city’s Addressing Crime Trends Now Act (ACT Now) but many have voiced concerns that her reforms are not substantial enough to solve the violent crime facing the city.
As Council Chairman Phil Mendelson told WUSA 9, “The legislation the Mayor [Bowser] introduced deals very little, if at all, with what’s top of mind for residents which are homicides, carjackings, and robberies. Yes, there are some good ideas. But no this is not the short-term big change that we can see in regard to reducing the violent crime.”
Atlanta is also considering a ski mask ban.
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