Philadelphia City Councilmember introduces legislation banning ski masks citywide: 'Residents want a ban'

A Philadelphia Councilmember has introduced legislation banning ski masks throughout the city. 

Councilmember Anthony Phillips, who represents the 9th District, introduced the legislation on Thursday. 

According to officials, if it passes, the bill would prohibit people from wearing skis masks in schools, recreation centers, daycares, parks, city-owned buildings, or on any mode of transportation. 

If approved, breaking the ban would result in a $250 penalty. 

The bill would also impose a $2,000 fine for those wearing ski masks while committing a crime, officials say. 

Exceptions will be made for various circumstances, including wearing ski masks or balaclavas for traditional holiday costumes, religious holidays, employment, theatrical productions, or winter sports. 

"Neighbors consistently ask me when Council will ban ski masks and, while going out in the community to get feedback on this issue, the common thread was that residents want a ban," Phillips said. "This is not only a public safety issue, but it's also a quality-of-life issue because residents feel intimidated in their own neighborhoods." 

This comes one week after City Council passed a resolution allowing the Committee on Public Safety to hold public hearings examining the use of face masks, also commonly known as "pooh shiesties," during the commission of a crime. 

It also comes several weeks after SEPTA Transit Police Chief Charles Lawson announced they were banned following fatal shooting of a 15-year-old Philadelphia high school student on a SEPTA bus in Germantown.

"Those face masks are prohibited on SEPTA property," SEPTA Transit Police Chief Charles Lawson said in a press conference. "If you come on SEPTA property wearing your shiesty, you will be engaged by police. So I want you to think about it."

When asked why the ski masks are being banned, Lawson said they are problematic. 

>> Ski masks banned from SEPTA property, Transit Police Chief says: 'You will be engaged by police'

"Masks are an issue. I'm going to be completely honest with you," he said. "These full-head coverings are a major issue because we are seeing it routinely being worn in 80-degree weather in Philadelphia. There is no legitimate reason, pandemic withstanding, to wear a full head covering in public for anything." 

Officials say similar bans are in effect in Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia.