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Councilmember Jim Graham’s Anti Loitering Bill Withdrawn

IMG_3468, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

From an email by Councilmember Jim Graham:

“Throughout my career I have tried– working with others– to solve problems. I have worked hard to listen to my constituents. People know also that I am a determined crime fighter who is equally determined to address the root causes of crime.

Children should be able to play outside safely. Neighbors should not be afraid to sit on their front stoops, or walk to the local convenience shop. Our young people should not live in fear while they wait for the bus. People ought to be able to walk freely into their homes and the lobbies of their apartment buildings.

Those concerns led me to try to draft a constitutionally sound piece of legislation. The purpose was to give residents and neighbors some much-needed relief from criminal congregants while also reaffirming the right to assemble. So the draft bill was narrowly focused by requiring a limit of 240 hours, a designated area, and other restrictions.

I care deeply about civil liberties. I am also concerned about giving government power that can be abused, through unfairly targeting people on the basis of race or background. After a lot of effort, there are still critical ambiguities (e.g. the definition of what constitutes “loitering”) . Thus, the opportunity for abuse is too great. Very recent events have reinforced that conclusion.

Thus I have withdrawn the bill.”

Thoughts?

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