By Chris Hoenig
Patrons are threatening to boycott a Minneapolis bar over a new dress code that they say is overtly racist.
The dress code, posted at Bar Louie in Uptown Minneapolis, bans flat-brimmed hats, large chains, sleeveless undershirts, excessively baggy clothing, long white T-shirts, athletic apparel and sports jerseys without collars.
The new regulations are in effect from 9 p.m. to close every Thursday through Saturday night.
“You might as well say, ‘No Black folks allowed,'” Michelle Horovitz told the local FOX station. “It’s ridiculous.”
Horovitz took particular exception to a couple of the regulations. “What jerseys have collars,” she wondered. “What is ‘excessively baggy’ And who’s going to judge that Are you going to have Grandma Bea sitting by the door saying, ‘That’s too baggy'”
Complaints and accusations about the new dress code—which is NOT in effect at another Bar Louie location in Minnetonka, a Minneapolis suburb where 90 percent of the residents are white—are coming from people of all races.
“It’s the new Jim Crow being enforced in a colorblind way,” Horovitz, who is white, said. Sean Tierney, who is also white, said that he believes the policies are “totally racial profiling.”
“If you do not want African-Americans to frequent your establishment, then maybe you should just say that and not just break it down to the dress code,” Imani Vincent said, recommending that patrons boycott the bar until the dress code changes. “Hurt ’em in the pockets. That’s where it would hurt them the most. If they don’t want us there, then we don’t have to be there—and that’s their loss.”
Blacks account for nearly one-fifth of Minneapolis’ population. But Uptown Minneapolis, the city’s popular entertainment and commercial district, encompasses four neighborhoods—East Calhoun, CARAG, East Isles and Lowry Hill East—that are overwhelmingly white.
“Minnesota might be the nicest, healthiest, cleanest state in America, but we have huge issues as far as segregation, racism, systematic oppression—and people want to look the other way,” Horovitz said. “This is not okay, and we’re not going to patronize you if you don’t change your policy.”
Bar Louie executives have not offered any official comment, though the manager of the Uptown location did confirm that the dress code was ordered by the company’s corporate office.
The Bar Louie dress code banning excessively bagging clothing is just the latest in a growing trend. What started with school districts instituting a formal dress code has expanded into commercial endeavors and, more recently, law.
In Florida, a state law known as the “baggy pants law” prohibits students from wearing pants or other clothing that “exposes underwear or body parts” if it can be construed as indecent or vulgar. Fort Myers, Fla., is considering extending that ban to the general public, while the town of Winnsboro, S.C., has asked its attorney to draft an ordinance that makes “sagging pants” a crime.
“I would like to see if there is something we could do as a council to pass an ordinance and get a dress code passed in the town because to me it’s embarrassing,” Winnsboro Councilman Clyde Sanders said. “Doesn’t matter if it’s $10, write them a ticket. If you get very many tickets, you’re going to get the point and start wearing your pants like you’re supposed to. It’s not just Winnsboro, it’s everywhere, but it is happening here and Winnsboro is my town and maybe if we do something other towns will follow suit.”
Airlines have also kicked passengers off flights because of sagging pants, even if they don’t have a formal dress code in place that bans it. In one of the more famous instances, Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight after refusing a flight attendant’s request to pull up his pants, while University of New Mexico football player Deshon Marman was actually arrested on board a US Airways plane at San Francisco International Airport after he didn’t follow a gate agent’s orders about his baggy pants.