The Minneapolis City Council on Wednesday afternoon is holding public hearings to discuss the possible repeal of minor crime ordinances that prohibit lurking and spitting.
City Council Members Cam Gordon and Blong Yang want to remove lurking and spitting from the city’s list of criminal offenses, which advocates say would help cut down on police calls and arrests that target minorities. The meeting will take place at 1:30 p.m.
In a statement Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota said it supported the repeals saying "we believe that these ordinances have served to increase racial disparities in policing in Minneapolis." An organization representative will testify at the hearing.
213.30. Spitting; depositing tobacco.
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 above ordinance was adopted in 1898 and amended in 1904.
“The Council proceedings from the time period indicate that the passage of this ordinance was intended to help prevent the spread of Tuberculosis (TB) in a time when the use of chewing tobacco was common in Minneapolis...Recent concerns have been raised that this law may, perhaps unintentionally, serve to perpetuate racism and classism in our criminal justice system," a council staff report said.
From 2011 to 2014, police gave out 29 spitting citations, 13 of which were given to black suspects, 1 to a white suspect and 15 other suspects, whose race wasn't identified.
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.
Approved in 1960, the lurking ordinance was enforced relatively infrequently. Between 2009 and 2014, Minneapolis police made 392 arrests. See below for racial breakdown.