Updated: November 25, 2013 1:24PM
One of the most appalling sights on TV Tuesday night was the image of a Chicago Police officer taking away a handcuffed Julian High School student.
It was bad enough the teenager was being hustled out of school because he was allegedly involved in one of the fights that erupted inside the South Side high school.
But the young man who flashed across the TV screen looked like the cop had snatched him off a toilet. His khaki pants weren’t just sagging, they were wrapped around his ankles and he was shuffling.
That probably explains why no one got physically hurt in the melee. It’s tough to throw punches and hold up your pants at the same time.
Twenty-seven of the juveniles have been charged with felony mob action, while two students have been charged with misdemeanor mob action.
The students also face disciplinary actions at the high school.
“We have a student code of conduct that will help dictate our course of action,” said a spokesman for the Chicago Public Schools.
“Maybe some charges will be dropped. Some of the kids were really not involved at the same level. Clearly there will be cases where kids will be suspended,” the spokesman said.
It is not my intention to minimize the brawling. But after years of adults complaining about young African-American males walking the streets with their underwear exposed, many of us have given up saying anything about the disgusting trend.
Those of us who do point out that there is something fundamentally wrong with exposing your underwear in public get a beat-down.
For instance, CNN anchor Don Lemon created a firestorm recently when he criticized the trend. Here’s what Lemon said:
“Sagging pants, whether Justin Bieber or No-name Derek around the way, walking around with your ass and your underwear showing is not OK. In fact, it comes from prison when they take away belts from the prisoners so that they can’t make a weapon. And then it evolved into which role a prisoner would have during male-on-male prison sex. The one with the really low pants is the submissive one.”
Lemon’s peers branded him a “turncoat” and “race traitor” for calling out young brothers.
But Lemon is right.
In fact, according to the dress code posted on Julian’s website, “pants cannot sag, have designs or fall below the waist.”
Yet more than a few of the brawlers were indeed sagging.
So besides being on the nightly news for fighting and disrupting the high school, these young men looked like the typical thugs on the street.
Unfortunately for them, law enforcement is only too willing to treat them as such.
Three weeks ago, 10 students were charged with felony mob action when a massive brawl broke out at Rich South High School. In this instance, the school went up for grabs after students from Rich Central were bused to the rival school after a bomb threat.
Although no weapons were used in either of these incidents, there is a reason why police treat “school brawls” like serious crimes.
In 2009, Derrion Albert, 16, was killed near Fenger High School when he got caught in the middle of a street fight between two warring factions. One group was from the neighborhood known as “the Ville” and another was from the CHA’s Altgeld Gardens.
The fatal beating was videotaped and broadcast across the country. Viewers watched in horror as groups of young black men attacked each other with fists, sticks and railroad ties.
Part of the work that lies ahead to improve the black community is changing this behavior.
But if we can’t tell a young black man the truth about his pants, what can we tell him?