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Opinions ranged from mild to heated during the ‘Swag But No Sag’ Panel Discussion hosted by Bishop W. Todd Ervin, Carson Councilman Mike Gipson and the Church One congregation on February 26 at 700 E. 70th Street in Long Beach.
The lively discourse, which attracted nearly 50 people, offered insight and potential consequences of young men wearing pants at waist level or sagging them below the waist. The event was sponsored under Church One’s community outreach services.
Leo Stallworth of KABC News moderated the discussion and the panelists included Rev. Robert Green of Olive Branch Church, Rev. Dr. Lewis Logan II of Ruach Christian Fellowship; Dr. John Hamilton of UCLA, Judge Karen Ackerson-Brazille, Morehouse graduate Amir Johnson, Lt. Galen Carroll of North Long Beach Police Department and Twynisha Williams, a BET employee and member of Church One.
“A number of very interesting points were made. Lt. Carroll said it’s hard to decipher when you get a call that a young man is dressed a certain way. But when you arrive, a lot of young men are dressed that way and you don’t know who’s who. He said it’s like a uniform, attire that most gang members wear. It doesn’t mean you are a gang member because you have it on, but it associates you with them,” said Bishop Ervin.
Also, Lt. Carroll and panelist Johnson shared that there are different levels of sagging, from minimal sag to super-sagging. Johnson, who is neither pro nor anti-sagging, said he was not a super-sagger, but he does sag his pants slightly for comfort.
Shelton Ervin, brother of Bishop Ervin, even gave a retroperspective of the issue based on growing up in the 1960s and 70s. “His attire of leather jackets, big afro, jeans and white t-shirt meant ‘Black Panther,’ so he was stopped a lot and asked, ‘Are you a Black Panther?’ So, it’s nothing new about the way we dress to express ourselves. I believe the offensive part of sagging is the underwear showing and sometimes skin showing,” the bishop said.
While everyone agreed there is no direct link between sagging and crime, one man illustrated how there is a perception about attire and people who do criminal activities when he told about his experience.
“I had to bury my 20 year old son who was killed because of mistaken identity due to the way he was dressed. Someone thought he was a member of a gang,” the man said.
Bishop Ervin was pleased with the event and said future discussions are planned. “I realize this is only a tip of the iceberg, a drop in the bucket. But I believe if we get enough drops together, we can fill a bucket.
“We hope people will continue to share thoughts on this topic, whether you are for, or against, sagging. Call us at (562) 633-2515, comment on Facebook, or email us at Swag
for more information.”< ><-->