Minneapolis repeals lurking, spitting laws that criminalize people of color

Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (MN NOC)

June 5, 2015

Today, after months of organizing and community pressure, the Minneapolis City Council voted 12-1 to repeal laws against lurking and spitting. These laws, disproportionately enforced against people of color, had been criticized as "Minneapolis Black Codes."

The repeal comes on the heels of a new ACLU report showing that in Minneapolis, black and Native American people are over 8 times more likely to be arrested for low level offenses than white people.

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The Twin Cities' racial disparities, among the worst in the nation on every measure, have long shadowed a region consistently cited as one of the best places to live--for white people.
"In many ways Minnesota and Wisconsin have become the new south. The disparities we're seeing rival anything in the Jim Crow era," said Anthony Newby, executive director of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. "Today's repeal is a small, important first step toward ending racial disparities in our police system. We thank the city council for listening to the community and look forward to working with them on further police reforms."
Repealing these ordinances has been a priority for Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, and the ACLU.
In the months leading up to the repeal, community members packed the council chambers at two public hearings to testify about their experiences being racially profiled by the police. At today's council meeting, council members thanked the community for sharing their stories.
Council Member Cam Gordon, who co-authored the repeal, at one point read aloud from Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow during the council meeting, describing the effects of low-level arrests on the lives of people of color. "Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans," he read. "This isn't a police problem. This isn't a court problem. This is our problem. We need to own it."
“The ACLU-MN is thrilled that the Minneapolis City Council is taking this important first step in reforming our criminal justice system by repealing the lurking and spitting ordinance,” stated Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of ACLU-MN. “These ordinances were completely unnecessary and only used to further strain relations between the community and the police. We hope that this is a sign that we are starting on the right path to remedy the deep racial disparities that pervade our criminal justice system.”

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February 12, 2019

FFJ Advisor Discussion Series: Marisa Franco

Marisa Franco, FFJ Field Advisor and Director and Co-founder of of Mijente, a digital and grassroots hub for Latinx and Chicanx organizing and movement building, speaks on the current political moment and how funders can contribute to movement work.

Tell us about the particular moment you are in with your work and place in the movement.

Entering into our fourth year, we are doing our best to be a vehicle to both respond to the real-time challenges our communities face and a place to find respite, connection, and replenished meaning. Given what the Latinx and Chicanx community faces, we’ve got to walk and chew gum at the same time (and hop on one leg, juggle, and balance something on our head!) but we believe that through the continued growth where organizers, healers, change-makers, designers, and disrupters feel Mijente is a place to meaningfully contribute to collective liberation means we are going in the right direction. It is my view that our most critical task at this time is growth and recruitment - millions of people are becoming exposed to the injustice and summarily wrong direction we are heading in - our organizations must be open and accessible entry points for people to contribute to moving us in the right direction.

How do you understand the political moment that we’re in? What do you think we need to do differently right now?

Ultimately I think that lots of what we reference as threats that are coming are largely here - crisis as a result of climate change is here, it’s being felt across the planet. The extreme backlash and attempt to re-entrench power due to demographic change is here, occurring in localities across the United States. Authoritarianism is a growing threat beyond Donald Trump and within the domestic United States. Given all of this, at the very least I think it’s critical we start to widen our panorama of political understanding to include outside of the United States and make the connections internationally. Rest assured, our adversaries are in coordination - we ignore our movement siblings and the struggle outside of the United States to our own detriment.

What should funders be understanding in this political moment? What should funders be doing to support organizations and movements?

What’s important to understand in this political moment is how the volatility impacts the plans, perspective, and morale of people in organizations and social movements. It has become more and more difficult to lay out plans that feel real given how normal it's become for so much to turn upside down pretty regularly. Some understanding and support of this from funders, particularly when it means proposed work is not carried out in the way it was initially described, is very helpful.

Continued support for rapid response tactics is critical, as well as funds that help convene key groups and/or leaders in this time goes a long way. In times like these, those that are able to adapt and move quickly are well positioned to make impactful changes. These folks have got to be able to do so with enough support and not too many hurdles, hoops, and paper to be able to move. So some of these existing practices around simplifying processes, making funds available for rapid response activities, and pop up convenings is something that has been helpful thus far and is important to continue.

December 10, 2018

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