Better plan on stashing the Halloween clown costume.
In the wake of the “creepy clown” sightings and scares across the country, Kemper County in Mississippi is not pulling any punches this Halloween. County supervisors issued a ban against clown costumes, masks or makeup worn in public during the holiday, the Associated Press reported Thursday. Effective through Nov. 1, violators will be hit with a $150 penalty fee for donning clown paraphernalia.
After a profusion of clown sightings put state counties on alert and, in some cases, schools on lockdown across the nation in recent months, Kemper County Board President Johnny Whitsett voiced concern. “It has gotten really out of hand,” he told the Kemper County Messenger about the clown costume ban.
The $150 fine is crucial to detering people from dressing up as clowns, officials said. "In order for it to be effective you have to put teeth into it," Kemper County Board attorney Bo Bailey said.
An American Civil Liberties Union attorney based in New York, Lee Rowland, noted that the First Amendment protects the majority of clothing choices. “[It’s] a ridiculous use of government authority … to dictate which Halloween costumes people can wear,” Rowland told the AP.
County-wide clown costume bans have not been a wide occurrence. Yet. Some schools, however, have banned clown costumes from school hallways. In Florida, Pasco County law enforcement warned locals to not wear clown costumes for Halloween after a string of clown scares across the state spooked schools and families throughout the area.
“I know people are fed up,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco told WTSP news in September. “They’re tired of seeing demonstrations and riots. They’re sick and tired of terroristic threats. Now they’ve got to deal with these damn clown things going on.”