Lance Handy had bought cigarettes at a grocery store and was waiting for his bus when a Minneapolis police officer arrested him for “lurking with intent,” says the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Handy had no idea what the charge meant. The case was dismissed, “but any criminal charges these days make it hard to find housing and jobs,” he says. Several groups, including the Minneapolis NAACP, Minneapolis Urban League, and African American Family Services, say it’s time to get rid of the “lurking” law, which they say has been used as a pretense for targeting young African-American men.
A City Council member will try to repeal it, but the police, some neighborhood groups and key City Council members say it’s an important tool to deter more serious crime. “The lurking ordinance is one more tool that officers use to keep neighborhoods safe,” said Lt. Amelia Huffman, a policev spokeswoman. Minneapolis and St. Paul are among a handful of major cities with an ordinance targeting lurking, a misdemeanor. The nonprofit Council on Crime and Justice said that 58 percent of the 800 people who have been arrested or cited for lurking since 2003 in Minneapolis were black, compared with 26 percent who were white. Of the 103 homeless people arrested under the ordinance, all were black.