Understanding the Law
October 25, 2013

What’s in a hoodie?

Banning hoodies! I have heard that before! The call was made in the USA because of some spurious associations between hoodie clad African American youth and crimes. You would recall the fatal association of hoodies with Trayvon Martin, the young guy who was gunned down in Florida, USA, because he fitted the stereotype. His attacker had the preconceived idea that Trayvon was not up to anything good in the gated community where he was visiting relatives.{{more}} Thousands of persons came out on the streets and announced to the world that they, too, wear hoodies, but that they were not criminals. The hoodie is a sweatshirt with a hood. It is cheap and practical, hence the widespread use among many persons in cold countries. However, all types of clothing, from summer clothes to winter clothes, carry hoods, but it seems that the sweatshirts have come in for sharp criticism.

Practical item of clothing

Except for some isolated cases in schools, no action has been taken in the US towards banning the hoodie. In my view, the hoodie is the most practical item of upper body clothing introduced in the clothing industry for cold weather conditions. Men, women and children of all ages wear them. Men, especially, like them because of the versatility that the hood offers as a head cover. When inside a warm building, it could be easily pushed back. It serves well in autumn and spring as an alternative to a jacket and it could be worn as an undergarment in the winter. Hoods provide the best protection, especially to the neck area, that no type of scarf and hat could provide. Further, it affords some freedom with not having to carry around scarves and hats. The only disadvantage is that one can only see straight ahead and not too well from the sides.

How to catch a criminal

It appears as if a similar association between hoodie wearers and crimes has been made in SVG. But if this is factual, then it should benefit law enforcement officers in helping them to find the criminals, especially when they wear the badge of their trade publicly. Hence, it could be concluded that when a hoodie wearer is in one’s area, criminal activity is afoot. However, I believe that criminals would want to wear clothes that afford some anonymity, rather than those that arouse suspicion and expose intention. The hoodie cannot be a disguise if the law enforcement officers know that the wearers are associated with crimes. On the other hand, non-hoodie wearers have committed crimes. The guy who entered my house some years ago pulled his tee shirt over his face.

Hot in SVG

The high temperature in SVG is not conducive to the widespread wearing of the warm type of hoodie illustrated, but there are some types that are made of light material, which could be worn for exercise or just for style.

Unrelated to camouflage

I do not see the relevance of the banning of camouflage garments to the argument about hoodies. I think that the purpose of the ban on the camouflage was to prevent criminal activities by persons dressed like members of the Special Forces and there were some not too pleasant incidents as a result of the ban. The hoodie is not a military uniform; it is not the badge of trade for criminals and we should not chip away at the freedom we enjoy in our democracy by calling for a ban on items of clothing.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com