Banning ski masks: Philadelphia to fine people for wearing face covering in some public spaces

By6abc Digital Staff, Annie McCormick WPVI logo
Sunday, December 17, 2023
Philly's ski mask ban becomes law | Here's how much you can be fined
Philadelphia's ski mask ban becomes law | Everything you should know about possible fines

PHILADELPHIA -- The city of Philadelphia can now fine people for wearing ski masks in some public spaces.

Mayor Jim Kenney did not sign or veto the bill, which means it automatically became law Thursday.

Those wearing ski masks in parks, schools, day care centers, transit and city-owned buildings can now be fined $250.

If the person is caught wearing a ski mask during criminal activity, they would face a fine of up to $2,000.

Just two weeks ago City Council voted 13-2 passing the legislation. It was sponsored by Councilmember Anthony Phillips, who said it could aid police in solving crimes.

The legislation touched on several recent incidents, including the deadly ambush by ski mask-clad gunmen who shot and killed Nicolas Elizalde, an innocent bystander, during a high school football scrimmage.

In May 2023, someone in a ski mask shot and killed a 15-year-old on a public bus.

In July, an attacker in a ski mask and body armor killed five people and injured two children in the city's Kingsessing section.

Councilmembers Jamie Gauthier and Kendra Brooks cast the two votes against the ban.

There have been some mixed opinions on the new law.

"Me personally, I don't wear them. They should let other people wear them," said Jevan West of Southwest Philadelphia.

"People like me that go to work early mornings and late nights, their faces get cold. I think certain times it should be banned and other times it shouldn't be banned," added Curtis Caldwell of Kensington.

Solomon Worlds of the Philadelphia American Civil Liberties Union called the legislation "fundamentally unfair" when it passed council in November. He said it could further criminalize young people of color.

"Safety is important, but there is no evidence to suggest ski masks cause or encourage violent crime," Worlds said.

In a statement Thursday, a city spokesperson said they will review the final legislation to identify the best approach for legal and effective enforcement.