Spitting and lurking ordinances repealed

Black Lives Matter Mpls celebrates first policy win

Minneapolis — On Monday, June 8 the Minneapolis City Council voted 12-1 to repeal spitting and lurking laws as around 100 Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change supporters packed the hearing. [See MSR’s story last week, “Mpls City Council considers repeal of lurking, spitting laws.”]

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis has been pushing for this reform as one of its core demands since last year, arguing it contributes to racial disparities in arrest rates for people of color.

Lisa Goodman introduced an amendment, seconded by Kevin Reich and supported by Council President Barb Johnson, to keep spitting illegal as a petty misdemeanor. This motion failed and both spitting and lurking were repealed, despite vocal opposition from the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce who claimed this repeal would lead to people “lurking in trees.”

“Spitting and lurking laws currently function to criminalize people of color in Minneapolis. These ordinances do not promote public safety, but instead hinder it when police officers utilize these laws to harass and prosecute Black people and people of color,” said Michael McDowell of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.

Data shows that Black people in Minneapolis are nine times more likely to be arrested than White people for low-level ordinances, and Black Lives Matter Minneapolis asserts that laws such as spitting and lurking are archaic, likely unconstitutional, and actually do more harm to the community.

“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 criminalizes Black and brown bodies,” said Miski Noor of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis plans to continue to advocate for reform, pushing law enforcement and government officials to create these changes for a more just system in Minneapolis and across the state.


This information was provided by Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, a group of Black and allied organizers in Minneapolis working in solidarity with the national Black Lives Matter movement.