Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here: http://secondward.blogspot.com/2006/05/disclaimer.html#links

Monday, May 01, 2006

Dancing on the street

I attended the last Transportation and Public Works committee (which is notable because I'm not on that committee) to speak in favor of my motion to remove this ordinance from the City code:

427.240. Dancing on streets. No person shall dance or engage or participate in any dancing upon any public street or highway in the city; and no person shall provide for, promote or conduct any dance or dancing upon any public street or highway in the city, except at a block party. (Code 1960, As Amend., § 583.340)” (Look it up here by its number.)

My arguments were these:

a) This law is outdated and embarrasses the City when it’s used.

b) This law is used to discriminate against persons experiencing homelessness and mental illness.

c) There are other laws that hold people accountable for doing generally disruptive things in the street: 385.65, Interference with pedestrian or vehicular traffic; 427.220, Congregating on streets or sidewalks; 466.240, Assemblies obstructing pedestrian or vehicular traffic. (Look these up here, again by their numbers.)

I’ve been surprised by the response from local media to this issue. (See the Strib and Downtown Journal.) I thought it was a relatively easy ordinance change to get done early in my term, and help that it would help pave the way for addressing other ordinances against loitering, lurker and trespassing often used in apparent discriminatory ways against people with mental health issues. I was asked by advocates for persons experiencing homelessness and working to decriminalize poverty to get it off the books. At the same time it appears to have made for an irresistibly fun little story.

My motion passed TPW unanimously. I thank everyone who came to testify and I expect it to pass with full Council approval next Friday.

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