The inalienable right of a man to wear a straw hat in a snowstorm, if he desires, is to be upheld in this city by both police and the Magistrates, and a warning was sent broadcast to all straw hat smashers last night that jail terms on assault charges awaited them if they started any such carnival today.
On the theory that Sept. 15 is the last day of the straw hat season and that they had the right to declare open season on straw hats on other persons’ heads, scores of rowdies on the east side and in other parts of the city started smashing hats last evening. There was danger of riots in three congested spots on the east side; police reserves were called out; straw hat bonfires were started, and seven men were convicted of disorderly conduct in the Men’s Night Court.
In imposing fines of $5 each on the seven men who were brought before him for the part they had taken in a hat-smashing saturnalia at Bowery and East Houston Street, Magistrate Peter A. Hatting said that the next men to come before him for break other persons’ hats would go to jail.
“It is against the law to smash a man’s hat, and he has a right to wear it in a January snowstorm if he wishes,” declared Magistrate Hatting. “To hit a man’s hat is a simple assault, and in this court it will be treated as such, and I want you to spread this word among all who would smash hats. A man’s hat is just as much his property and just as much to be defended as his watch, and the courts are going to enforce the laws.”
In the First Inspection District, which covers the lower east side, Inspector William A. Coleman told the patrolmen in all his station to use a rigorous hand with all hat-smashers and to arrest rowdies, wholesale, if they made trouble.