Winter is upon us and while the weather is getting colder, Philadelphians will have to think twice about how they choose to bundle up. Thursday members of City Council met for the last session of the year to discuss many things including bill number 230510, the proposal to implement a ski mask ban.
First introduced June 15th, 2023, such a proposal sparked a schism of opinion. While supporters of the ban reasoned it would help curtail gun violence and crime already prevalent in the city, opponents argued it was an intrusion on black and brown youth.
Mayor Jim Kenney returned bill number 230510 unsigned, as a result, Thursday’s meeting concluded with a new law: ski masks are now banned in some places in Philadelphia.
The law has gone into effect immediately. Breaking this new law is punishable by a $250 fine.
Where Are Ski Masks Now Prohibited?
According to the new law, ski masks, also referred to as a “shiesty” or “balaclava”, are prohibited in any school budding, recreation center, daycare, park, city-owned building, or any mode of public transportation, including, but not limited to, buses, trains, trolleys, and subways.
Violators who break the law risk having the pay a fine of $250.
Supporters of the bill, such as councilmember Isaiah Thomas, argued that too often the masks are used in criminal activities and make it hard to identify the assailants behind the mask. “Young people, you got to take them jawns off,” Thomas said when speaking to NBC, emphasizing his comments. “Seriously.”
Are There Any Exceptions To The Ski Mask Ban?
Yes. There are exceptions to the new law including when such garments are worn for religious purposed and First Amendment Rights.
Indeed, there are some, like attorney Solomon Furious Worlds, who believes the new law is unconstitutional.
“There is no evidence to suggest that wearing a ski mask causes or encourages violent crime,” he told councilmembers. “If you’d like to address violent crime, I’d suggest housing, food assistance, child-care, things like that.”
When Does The Law Go Into Effect?
Mayor Kenney returned the proposed bill unsigned. In the end council members passed the bill with a vote of 13 to 2.
The new law goes into effect immediately.