Minneapolis repeals spitting and lurking ordinances

The Minneapolis City Council voted Friday to repeal the city's spitting and lurking ordinances. Both ordinances were repealed on a 12- vote, with council president Barb Johnson the lone dissenting vote.

"Please don't spit," Johnson said in a plea to the public.

Reason for repeal

The request to repeal the laws, authored by council members Cam Gordon and Blong Yang, cited concerns they "may, perhaps unintentionally, serve to perpetuate racism and classism in our criminal justice system." Councilman Gordon has said the ordinances are contributors to the "new Jim Crow" in the city today, and the ACLU, NAACP and Black Lives Matter have been vocal supporters of the repeal.

"People of color deserve to have a decent quality of life, and that cannot happen if we continue with the same system of policing that we have in place which is reminiscent of the Jim Crow era," Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds said.

Spitting ordinance stats

"No person shall spit or expectorate or deposit or place any sputum, spittle, saliva, phlegm, mucus, tobacco juice, cigarette stumps, cigar stumps or quids of tobacco upon the floor, walls or stairway or any part of any public hall or building, depot, market, theater, church or place of public amusement; or upon, into or through any grating, area or stairway; or upon any sidewalk of any public street; or upon the floor, furnishings or equipment of any motor bus while it is in use upon the streets of the city."

The spitting rule was implemented in 1898 over the fear of spreading tuberculosis through the spitting of tobacco. From 2011 to 2014 there were 29 citations issued for "spitting, depositing tobacco."

2011: 4 violations, 2 black, 2 race not identified
2012: 15 violations, 6 black, 9 race not identified
2013: 9 violations, 5 black, 4 race not identified
2014: 1 violation, 1 white

Lurking ordinance stats

"No person, in any public or private place, shall lurk, lie in wait or be concealed with intent to commit any crime or unlawful act."

Minneapolis police made 89 lurking arrests in 2014, and 11 so far in 2015.

What they're saying

"These two ordinances are antiquated, unnecessary, and unfairly affect people of color in our community. It's about time we got them off the books. I thank the council for moving forward and taking this important next step to make changes that help enable more equitable outcomes." - Mayor Betsy Hodges

"Today, the Minneapolis City Council has moved towards increased racial equity in Minneapolis with the repeals of spitting and lurking ordinances. However, this is just one step in the right direction; we need comprehensive criminal justice reform, instead of a system that just instead criminalizes Black and brown bodies." - Miski Noor of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis

Fox 9 reporters Bill Keller and Rob Olson contributed to this report


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