Let’s Get Rid of Jaywalking Laws

Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal/ZUMAPRESS

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In the Guardian today, Arwa Mahdawi takes on US jaywalking laws:

Why is jaywalking even against the law? There is no such offence in much of Europe, including in the UK — although Ken Livingstone apparently proposed making jaywalking illegal while he was mayor of London. In the US, however, you can get a hefty fine and even go to jail for it.

….Jaywalking laws are not evenly applied: enforcement disproportionally targets people of colour. In 2019, for example, 90% of illegal-walking tickets issued by New York police were to black and Hispanic people. The laws are one small part of widespread systemic racism, but they are also part of the ongoing privatisation of public spaces. The streets don’t belong to communities any more — they belong to individuals, driving around in expensive cars.

Aside from the usual tedious hit on people who drive cars, I’m on board with this. Not only do I agree that jaywalking laws are mostly dumb and useless, but I’m all in favor of anything that reduces police encounters with people of color—especially those that can be used routinely as a pretext for hassling someone just for the hell of it. One of the goals of police reform should be the elimination of low-level offenses like this that give police too much discretion to harass anyone they want with no good reason. Getting rid of jaywalking laws is a good place to start.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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