Atlanta City Council member proposes ban on ski masks to combat crime surge

Ski masks and face coverings became household items during the COVID-19 pandemic, but now one Atlanta City Council member wants to ban facial coverings as a way to keep the city safe.

Council member Antonio Lewis says his motivation for this legislation is to clearly to reduce crime.

He brought the idea to a Cleveland Avenue barbershop, where the community gave him a thumbs-up.

"As a 6-foot-2-inch-tall Black man, I am never the target, but I am always thinking about my wife and auntie," Lewis said. 

Lewis feels at home at the southeast Atlanta barbershop. It's where he grew up and first floated the idea of banning ski masks to reduce crime in the city of Atlanta.

"I get calls from parents, sisters, and brothers, who have lost loved ones from people who had on ski masks, and we could stop it ‘cause it was on camera," the native Atlantan revealed.

Lewis says one does not have to look far to find criminals in ski masks on surveillance video committing crimes.

Opponents say the ban violates freedom of expression. Lewis showed FOX 5 how offenders use hoodies to disguise their face and break the law.

"I know a lot of people will say, ‘Man, you are disenfranchising people.’ I am governing. Sometimes we have to govern," Lewis said firmly.

A similar measure recently passed in Philadelphia. Lewis says, while his legislation is still taking shape, there will be a few exceptions.

Lewis aligns with some Republicans, who wanted to ban medical masks, on the mask issue. He calls it common sense.

"Me and [Gov.] Brian Kemp are on the same page with carrying guns, and we're on the same page in banning ski masks. This has nothing to do with protesting," he said.

Lewis is optimistic his colleagues will agree with the legislation.