Philadelphia Council Votes to Ban Ski Masks in Certain Public Spaces
Burglar standing in black clothes and balaclava on his head.

Philadelphia Council Votes to Ban Ski Masks in Certain Public Spaces

Philadelphia has prohibited ski masks and other facial coverings within the city due to the fact that a significant portion of the crimes in the area have been carried out by individuals wearing such disguises.

The recently enacted law makes it illegal for individuals to don ski masks in parks, schools, or while using public transportation. Those found in violation of this regulation may face a fine of $250, with a potential increase to $2,000 if they are engaged in criminal activities while wearing a ski mask. However, the law does provide certain exemptions for individuals wearing ski masks for religious reasons.

This legislation comes at a time when the sixth-largest city in the nation has been grappling with a surge in violent crime. In 2021, Philadelphia recorded a historic high in homicides, with the majority of them involving firearms. While the number decreased from 562 to 516 in 2022, it remained elevated compared to the levels before the pandemic. Major cities across the country witnessed an increase in crime as social support systems were disrupted during the pandemic. However, crime rates have started to return to levels seen prior to the pandemic.

Philadelphia’s decision to ban ski masks and facial coverings contrasts with New York City’s approach, which relaxed a long-standing law prohibiting masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, New York City repealed a law that had been in place for over a century, which had previously prohibited the wearing of face coverings in public. This change was made to allow for mask-wearing during the coronavirus pandemic. Advocates for the repeal argued that the old law had also led to police harassment of people of color and had been used to target protesters during demonstrations.

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