CNN Legal Analyst Rips Mall's Hoodie Ban: ' Stop and Frisk'; 'Racial Profiling'

March 6th, 2014 3:03 PM

Sunny Hostin blasted an Indiana mall's ban of people wearing raised hoodies on Thursday's New Day: "This is...akin, in my 'stop and frisk' – to the pretext of 'stop and frisk' – and I think many courts have found that this type of behavior is unacceptable, and downright unconstitutional."

The CNN legal analyst also contended that "'hoodie' is code for 'thug' in many places," and later claimed that "to identify just hoodies in my's very, very clear what we're talking about here. We're talking about racial profiling. It's code for racial profiling." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]

Anchor Chris Cuomo took on the role of Hostin's sparring partner during the segment. Cuomo first noted, in defense of the commercial complex, that "the mall says, we've had it in place since 2004, so don't hit me with the Trayvon Martin stick...[and] had it in place because the local police like it, and they like it because they feel it makes it easier to fight crime because it allows people to not conceal themselves. Wear your hoodie – just don't have it concealing your face, so I can identify you in case anything happens."

Hostin wasted little time before using her "'hoodie' is code for 'thug," and continued with her "stop and frisk" claim:

SUNNY HOSTIN: I think the bottom line is, we know what this is about. This is about the pretext for being able to stop young African-American males. 'Hoodie' is code for 'thug' in many – in many places, and I think businesses shouldn't be in the business of telling people what to wear. The 14th Amendment protects us from this. And this is, sort of, akin, in my view, Chris, to 'stop and frisk' – to the pretext of 'stop and frisk' – and I think many courts have found that this type of behavior is unacceptable, and downright unconstitutional.

Remember the saggy pants ban...that a lot of places tried to enforce, and that again was code for black men – please don't wear this. And so, I suspect that this will be found unconstitutional because, quite frankly, it is. And when do we get to a place in our society where we stop doing this kind of thing; where we stop targeting young black men? So, that there's a pretext for it being allowed to stop them to escort them out of a mall simply by what they're wearing.

The CNN anchor followed up by trying to cast doubt on the legal analyst's racial bias assertions:

CHRIS CUOMO: The other side is, why do you assume that only blacks wear hoodies? That is not true. That is not provable. So, you are making a cultural distinction yourself. Also, the local police like it, which means they see a cross-section between crimes they investigate and – you know, the kind of concealing of one's identity using a hoodie. And you don't want to own part of the problem in the first place, which is if there are a lot of black kids, by your own designation, who wind up wearing hoodies and getting in trouble, why don't you deal with the fact you have a disproportionate number of black kids, wearing hoodies, getting in trouble and fix that? Don't fix me for having to deal with them?

In reply, Hostin stood by her likening of the ban to "stop and frisk," which led to a back-and-forth between her and Cuomo:

HOSTIN: ...I think, actually, that argument is suspect because we know that – you know, a lot of young black men in 'stop and frisk' programs are targeted for offenses that white kids aren't targeted for-

CUOMO: This is not stop and frisk-

HOSTIN: But it is-

CUOMO: It's just don't pull up the hood-
HOSTIN: But it is – it's 'stop and frisk.' Why are hoodies inherently unsafe? Why are-

CUOMO: Not a hoodie – covering your face.

HOSTIN: Well then, why aren't caps – in this instance, why aren't they outlawed-

CUOMO: Because it doesn't cover your face-

HOSTIN: Of course, they do; of course, they do.

CUOMO: No, it isn't. It's on top of your head. This is something you pull over that masks your identity.

The CNN legal analyst used her "racial profiling" labeling of the mall's policy near the end of the segment:

HOSTIN: Look, I think the bottom line is, if you're going to outlaw hoodies in this mall, then you should outlaw baseball caps – any kind of head gear – ski masks, and just anything. And so, to identify just hoodies in my view, is – it's very, very clear what we're talking about here. We're talking about racial profiling. It's code for racial profiling. And I think when you look at the sign –  and the sign says, 'for the safety and well-being of everyone, please lower your hoodie.' Are hoodies – do they make you unwell? Do they – are they inherently unsafe? And, of course, they are not.

This isn't the first time that Hostin has made an eyebrow-raising argument on CNN. Back in September 2011, she asserted that the sex abuse cases involving Catholic priest could be considered war crimes, and could plausibly be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court, after the Survivors Networks of those Abused by Priests group filed a complaint with the global body: "I don't think it's a frivolous lawsuit by any stretch of the imagination or a frivolous complaint."