Brouhaha over butt-ban sign


By Lincoln Anderson

A street sign that recently mysteriously appeared on Christopher St. touched — or maybe that should be “tushed” — a sensitive spot for some pedestrians.

The sign admonished saggy-pants-wearing youths to jerk up their jeans, adding, “No one wants to see your underwear.”

At the sign’s bottom was a small, round logo, similar to that of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, but it stated, “M.E.A. — “Metropolitan Etiquette Authority.”

The image was of a young black man, shirtless, a towel over his shoulder and pants hanging well below his butt.

The metal message was fastened with two screws to a green city street pole near the entrance of 95 Christopher St., off of Bleecker St.

Jessica Berk, who lives in the building, said she didn’t know who put it up, but that the peculiar placard was causing quite a stir. The sign probably appeared Saturday night, she figured.

“The residents are laughing and saying, ‘Yeah, that’s true,’” she said on Tuesday. “Even the black gay older men think it’s funny. The black kids are screaming.”

Saying it looked like some sort of artistic prank, Berk called it “blatantly racist,” and said she asked two different police officers to take it down, to no avail.

On Tuesday night, the sign was provoking mostly mild reactions.

“I don’t know — I think it’s a joke, right?” said Marvin, from Harlem.

Jason Pencoff, of the West Village, and Tony Andrade, of Chelsea, said it seemed the sign was in jest based on the fact that it was put up, not by the city, but by the “M.E.A.” They thought it was sort of funny.

“I think many people over age 18 have thought, ‘I wish they’d just pull up their pants,’” Pencoff said.

Of the drooping denims look, Andrade said, “It’s getting a little old. It was amusing at first. It’s been going on a long time.”

Three black men, all age 20, didn’t exactly get indignant upon seeing the sign, but they definitely didn’t find it funny, either.

“I don’t like it. It’s immature,” said Ramar Graham, of East Orange, N.J.

“It don’t bother me,” said Jeremy Williams, also of East Orange, though adding, “I don’t got a screwdriver, but if I did, I would take it down.”

They strolled off, all of their pant waistbands at “M.E.A.”-approved height.

On Wednesday, asked about the sign, Deputy Inspector Brandon del Pozo, the Sixth Precinct’s commanding officer, said it was no longer there.

“The sign has been removed,” he said. He didn’t say if the police had removed it.

Asked for comment on the butt-ban brouhaha, he only said, “Private signs posted on public property are a violation of the city’s Administrative Code.”