Philadelphia Considers Proposal To Ban Public Use Of Ski Masks

Philadelphia’s city government is considering a bill to ban the use of ski masks in public spaces following a significant increase in crime since the 2020 death of George Floyd.

People wearing ski masks in public places, including parks and city-owned buildings would face a $250 fine under the new proposal. The penalty would increase to $2,000 if the person wore a ski mask while committing a crime.

Last month, the city’s public transit system SEPTA banned the use of ski masks on its buses and train cars.

The decision followed the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old student by an alleged assailant wearing a ski mask. 

“If you come on SEPTA property wearing your sheisty, you will be engaged by police. So I want you to think about it,” the agency’s transit police chief said.

“These full-head coverings are a major issue because we are seeing it routinely being worn in 80-degree weather in Philadelphia,” the SEPTA official said. “There is no legitimate reason, pandemic withstanding, to wear a full head covering in public for anything.” 

City Councilmember Anthony Phillips (D) said that the city “cannot ignore it because neighbors feel unsafe, we can’t ignore the police’s struggle to identify suspects. This is a public safety and a quality of life issue.”

Phillips introduced the mask proposal.

The issues surrounding facemasks are not unique to Philadelphia. Following the mandated use of masks, New York City asked retail establishments to bar the use of masks in order to better identify criminals.

Mayor Eric Adams (D) said that the city was “putting out a clear call to all of our shops: Do not allow people to enter the store without taking off their face mask.” 

The mayor said that some people wearing masks were “not doing it because they’re afraid of the pandemic, they’re doing it because they’re afraid of the police.” 

He cited a case earlier this year where a store owner was shot and killed by a person wearing a hazmat suit and a mask.