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Three young men were out walking around 8pm in Ville Platte (La) when they were struck from behind by a truck. But rather than charge the truck driver, the three men were charged with misdemeanors for not wearing reflective clothing:

Police have fined the three for not wearing reflective clothing at night and charged them with obstructing a public passage. Twenty-one-year-old Deonte Williams, 19-year-old Cody Mayes and 17-year-old Tevin Wilson have scrapes, bruises and even staples after being hit by a truck on North Chataignier Street.

What the three find most upsetting is that the driver was not charged and they were.

“For me to find out that this guy gets to just go home, we all get some misdemeanors and nothing happened to him,” Williams explains. “I’m upset about it.”

The crash happened near a neighborhood around 8 p.m. Tuesday night. The area doesn’t have sidewalks.

That this happened in Ville Platte is no surprise. Ville Platte was recently investigated by the Federal DOJ for its practice of criminalizing walking and penalizing the poor. In 2011, the town passed a curfew prohibiting walking outside after 10pm. The curfew only applied to pedestrians. So while it was legal to drive to a nearby store or friend’s house, it was not possible to walk there. The penalty was $200 — or jail for those who couldn’t afford it. According to a complaint filed by the NAACP and ACLU, hundreds of residents were swept up each night for violating the curfew.

The DOJ investigation led to the city dropping the curfew, but other notorious laws remain. Besides the reflective clothing mandate, the Ville Platte fashion police will arrest anyone wearing baggy or sagging pants that fall “more than three inches below the hips causing exposure of the person or the person’s undergarments.”

 

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