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    Gringo Mask – Yeah, This Should Work

    Gringo Mask – Yeah, This Should Work appears to be a real, not spoof, website in protest against the Arizona immigration bill. (h/t)

    The site proposes that as a protest people wear a mask featuring a blond-haired white person’s face (image right). According to the website:

    The objective of this action is to dignify and support the Hispanic community, with the firm intention of taking it to the streets and confronting Arizona’s statute SB 1070. Proud of where we come from, and what we do and are for this country.

    These people need lawyers, not masks.

    Because wearing a mask in public is illegal in many states, so the wearing of the Gringo Mask in and of itself would be grounds to be stopped by the police (and a resulting identity check?).

    In many states, these laws grew out of the desire to have a legal basis to prohibit the wearing of hoods at Ku Klux Klan rallies. In New York, interestingly, the law “can be traced back in substance to legislation enacted in 1845 to thwart armed insurrections by Hudson Valley tenant farmers who used disguises to attack law enforcement officers.” (Citation, at 10)

    New York Penal Law § 240.35(4), which has been upheld by the federal Court of Appeals (in a decision in which now Justice Sotomayor participated) makes it an offense of “loitering” for a person to be masked in public:

    Being masked or in any manner disguised by unusual or unnatural attire or facial alteration, loiters, remains or congregates in a public place with other persons so masked or disguised, or knowingly permits or aids persons so masked or disguised to congregate in a public place; except that such conduct is not unlawful when it occurs in connection with a masquerade party or like entertainment if, when such entertainment is held in a city which has promulgated regulations in connection with such affairs, permission is first obtained from the police or other appropriate authorities.

    Here is a list (a/o 2005) of states which criminalize the wearing of masks (Arizona is not on the list, having repealed its anti-mask law in 1978).

    I wonder, though, whether in states like Arizona where it is not illegal to wear a mask, the wearing of a mask combined with other factors, e.g. walking into a bank, could provide grounds at least to question someone.

    So while “driving while brown” or “looking Hispanic” or any of the other alleged grounds for racial profiling remain illegal as a basis for stopping and questioning someone, wearing the Gringo Mask could be a lawful ground in many states for a police officer to question someone.
    The Gringo Mask, another bad idea gone bad.


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    "These people need lawyers, not masks."
    I would put psychiatrists at the top of the list.

    "… wearing a mask in public is illegal in many states,"
    Ouch. That's gonna make the Lone Ranger's job a lot harder. Also the Green Hornet, Batman, and a couple of other folks.

    "The objective of this action is to dignify and support the Hispanic community."

    Hmm… why doesn't wearing a white mask sound like dignity to me?

    Another mindless protest against a bill no one's even read.

    "These people need lawyers, not masks."
    I would put psychiatrists at the top of the list.

    I disagree. Topping the list should be "a clue".

    So if I throw a Halloween party and the people arrive outside the house with masks, that's a violation of law? Does a burqa constitute a mask that is outlawed under this provision?

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