Discriminatory Lurking Ordinance
In her article "Lurking," from the April 12th edition of the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, Vickie Evans-Nash explains how the Minneapolis Lurking Ordinance has come under criticism because of the discriminatory manner that it has been enforced. The ordinance which is part of the Disorderly Conduct Ordinance has been on the books since 1877 and some consider it an important and indispensable tool that police can use to crack down on drug trafficking and prostitution. Others criticize the ordinance, citing the fact that in 2003, 466 of the 800 arrests made were of blacks. Opponents of the ordinance claim that since the ordinance does not explicitly state what "lurking" is, it allows for discrimination on the part of the individual police officers when they are enforcing the ordinance. Lieutenant Amelia Huffman of the Minneapolis Police Department claims that "Loitering is typically loitering for narcotics, loitering for prostitution." She is therefore in support of the ordinance, or at least something like it that would assist the police in cracking down on illegal activities.
I do not think that the ordinance should be repealed, or completely taken off the books. The Minneapolis Police Department has had a tenuous relationship with the African American community for a very long time however, and something needs to be done to address any discrimination that is taking place. Instead of repealing the ordinance, measures should be taken to better define what is meant by "lurking" so that not as much is left up to the discretion of the individual police officers. This would hopefully cut back on any kind of discrimination that is taking place where police officers are specifically targeting young African American males because of their own personal prejudices. It is one of many important race issues in the city of Minneapolis that is not given enough attention. Something needs to be done about the inequalities and injustices that are all too prevalent in our otherwise beautiful and glorious city.