‘No slopes, no ski masks’: Tio Hardiman calls for a ban on ski masks (Chicago, IL) — Since early 2020, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, masks have become commonplace in Chicago and much of the world. Mask mandates, while helpful in helping slow the spread of COVID, have spawned a nonchalant attitude toward face coverings. People are no longer alarmed as they once were upon seeing someone wearing a face covering walking towards them. Experts say this has led to a comfort among criminals who roam freely while concealing their identities with an obviously brazen attitude. According to Tio Hardiman, nonviolence activist and executive director of Violence Interrupters, this needs to stop and Illinois should join other states in banning ski masks.
“If a person isn’t going to ski, they shouldn’t be wearing a full face ski goggle,” Hardiman said. “Full-face ski goggles seem to give criminals an edge… It makes criminals emboldened. Almost as if they were invincible. Armed with the now commonplace use of face masks, criminals are taking advantage of warrants to mask their identities while committing the most heinous crimes.
According to Hardiman, crimes involving ski goggles and other full face coverings are on the rise. Illinois, and Chicago in particular, would benefit immensely from a ski mask ban, especially now.
Last November, three men wearing ski masks kidnapped a girl in the Austin neighborhood. Witnesses provided a description of the vehicle but could not identify the men involved. Twice already this week, men wearing ski masks have tried to lure children into a vehicle. Again, this happened in Austin. Last month, a Dan Ryan carjacking was caught on camera. But the carjacker was wearing a ski mask. A postman in Matteson was robbed at gunpoint three weeks ago by a man wearing a ski mask. The stories are endless and share a common theme: ski goggles. Many suspects are never apprehended.
According to data from the Chicago Police Department, violent crime, theft, carjacking and burglary have risen sharply in the years since the pandemic began. In 2019, 43,718 cases of such crimes were reported. So far in 2022, with the end of quarantine days and more general comfort in moving around in public spaces, 56,541 of these crimes have been reported. And there are still more than 6 weeks left in the year.
“These statistics are not surprising,” Hardiman explained. “The effects of the pandemic and a bad economy combined with the comfort everyone has with face coverings, has resulted in a huge increase in crimes committed by individuals wearing ski masks. And now it’s even harder to identify the perpetrators because we can’t see their faces.
Several states have some style of law on their books, either banning face coverings altogether or making a face covering illegal in certain circumstances, including Alabama, California, Connecticut, Washington DC, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota. , New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, North Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia.
Laws prohibiting face coverings in the United States date back to the 1800s, and many of them were born out of an attempt to prevent members of the Ku Klux Klan from harassing their victims. “This is a perfect example,” Hardiman said. He continued: “The KKK was committing heinous crimes, assaulting and killing innocent black men, women and children. And we couldn’t see their faces. They were hiding under a white hood. These criminals are hiding today too, and we should no longer allow it.
Opponents of the law say banning face coverings is a violation of First Amendment rights, but several courts across the country have upheld anti-mask laws. In fact, the Georgia Supreme Court found that wearing a mask is an act of intimidation and a threat of violence, and is therefore not protected by the First Amendment. It’s also worth noting that many European countries also have laws, some centuries old, that ban face coverings. Some of these countries are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
“I believe Illinois needs a law prohibiting people wearing full-face ski masks from dining in a restaurant, entering a bank, or being in public with their entire face covered. They must not be outside their home or business with a full-face ski mask. They shouldn’t be able to knock on anyone’s door with a full face ski goggle. If the police see someone driving with a full-face ski mask on, that should raise suspicion,” Hardiman concluded. “I don’t see any ski slopes in Chicago. No slopes, no ski masks!
‘No slopes, no ski masks’: Tio Hardiman calls for a ban on ski masks