Pants on the Ground Can Now Get You Arrested or Shot
June 21, 2011
You probably don’t know Deshon Marman but his name has been in the media for the past week since he was arrested for refusing to pull up his pants.
He is a 20-year-old University of New Mexico college football player from San Francisco. Like many young men his age the way he dresses, allowing his pants to sag below his waist can be described as sloppy, careless or inappropriate.
But media reports also variously suggest that Marman was removed because he failed to heed requests from US Airways personnel to pull up his pants, told them he could not comply because his hands were full with his carry-on luggage or refused to comply with orders from the pilot to leave the plane.
Marman was flying back to football camp after attending the funeral of a close friend in San Francisco. He told the Root.com he was wearing baggy pajama bottoms and “didn't present any cause to be removed from the plane. He told reporters that a flight attendant asked him to leave his seat, and then the pilot asked for his boarding pass. But Marman refused to de-plane, and a passenger recorded video as the situation escalated with Marman and the pilot, which resulted in the pilot making a citizen's arrest. Marman told the pilot, "I'm just like everybody else on this plane. I'm human," and the pilot said, "No, you're not. You're not like everybody else."
Some media reports quote US Airways as denying this was a case of racial profiling.
On the video Marman politely explains that he is being singled out because of his pajama bottoms. He uses the word "sir" when addressing the captain and said, essentially, "I bought a ticket and I’m ready to go."
But the passengers were forced to leave the plane as Marman was arrested for trespassing, battery and resisting arrest. It’s unclear if the district attorney will actually prosecute the case.
US Aiways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder told the San Francisco Chronicle Marman was not arrested because of the way he was dressed. He was arrested for failing to follow the orders of the flight crew.
I’m wondering why the media has not pressed US Airways further. Just a week before the airline had not bothered an older man who flew on a flight from Fort Lauderdale to Phoenix dressed in women’s underwear.
That man’s attire so bothered passenger Jill Tarlow that she snapped this picture.
"We don't have a dress code policy," Wunder told the Chronicle. "If they're not exposing their private parts, they're allowed to fly."
You have to wonder whether being confronted with the picture of the cross-dressing passenger prompted the airline to tell its employees to make sure all passengers are dressed appropriately.
I’ve not seen a picture of Marman so I don’t know how much he “violated” the airlines dress code, a dress code, by the way, I have never seen posted in any of the many airports I’ve been in or airplanes I’ve been on in the many years I have flown.
This is not to defend the practice of sagging. Personally I think it’s dumb… and dangerous.
And I’m not alone.
“I’m not a fan of sagging pants at all,” said Dr. Joseph Marshall, vice president of the San Francisco Police Commission and co-founder of the Omega Boys Club/Street Soldiers, a youth development and violence prevention organization headquartered in San Francisco that emphasizes academic achievement and non-involvement with drugs.
“I don’t want to see anyone’s underwear. If young men come in here (the boys club), I don’t even let them into my office if they’re sagging. They can’t get a job if they go on an interview and they’re sagging.”
The practice apparently started in prison where inmates are not allowed belts.
Maybe these young men believe sagging gives them “street cred” or makes them look tough. But it’s not a good look if you might be in a position where you have to run.
And that’s where the danger comes in.
How many times have you seen young men, and not just young Black men, walking around with their pants hanging down? And how many times have you heard about a young man being shot by police while trying to run away because “they reached for their belt.”
One law enforcement officer said, “I’ve chased kids and they’re reaching down. But you don’t know if they’re pulling up their pants or reaching for a gun.”
The media reports about Deshon Marman contain a suggestion that he may have been a thug because he was a big, Black man with dreadlocks and saggy pants.
One paper even pointed out he had an outstanding warrant for marijuana possession.
Marshall is not surprised because he believes this happens to African American youth all the time.
“If the media is going to report on the pants, why is that other stuff in there,” Marshall asked.
“Instead of sticking to the story of the pants, if they find something negative they’re going to write about it. But they shouldn’t because there is no criminal link between the pants and the pot.”
Marshall said young men of color are always under scrutiny. The Marman case is a learning opportunity that he shares with members of the Omega Boys Club.
“We tell the kids all the time, don’t give them an excuse,” said Marshall.
He believes it should also serve as a lesson for the airline.
“US Airways is going to have to address the double standard here.”
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