13 Things Grosser Than Spitting That Are Legal in Minneapolis

Tomorrow, the city council will vote on repealing the lurking and spitting ordinances, two low-level and vague offenses that disproportionately target black people. We've learned an amendment will be offered to keep spitting illegal, but change it from a misdemeanor to a petty misdemeanor--which wouldn't address the problem of overcriminalization.

Spitting was banned in Minneapolis in 1898, when there was a tuberculosis outbreak. The main argument in favor of keeping spitting illegal now appears to be "Spitting is gross." We've compiled a list of things that are grosser than spitting, but legal in the city of Minneapolis. Enjoy.


13. Porta-Potties at the end of a music festival.

The smell alone has got to be some kind of health risk. Plus, according to Cosmopolitan magazine, there are at least five life-threatening infections you can catch from using not only a Porta-Potty, but any public restroom. Try to put that thought out of your mind the next time you're out in public.


12. Paying someone with a disability 22 cents an hour.

We're fighting for a $15 minimum wage because all workers deserve a living wage. But did you know that for people with a disability, there is NO minimum wage? Thanks to Section 14(c) of the federal 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, employers who obtain a special certificate can pay disabled workers "according to their abilities"--with absolutely no bottom limit. Labor Department records have shown employees at Goodwill, among other companies, making as little as 22 cents an hour.

That's disgusting.


11. Evicting a family from a home and then leaving that home unattended and vacant to rot.

We've seen this many times in Minneapolis. A family wants to negotiate their mortgage with the bank. The bank refuses to negotiate. So the bank evicts the family, leaving them homeless, only to leave the house empty until they can turn a profit on the house--often for months or years.



10. Blowing snot rockets.

Sometimes a bug flies up your nose. Or you're just out on your bike and there's nowhere to stop. You gotta do what you gotta do, but that doesn't mean it's not really, really gross, not to mention a hazard to bystanders. 

Snot rocket

9. Telling a woman whether or not she can use birth control.

Thanks to the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision, your boss can now decide whether or not to cover basic women's health needs in your insurance plan, based on their religious beliefs.




8. Overcrowded, infrequent buses in the cities while buses for the outer suburbs get wi-fi.


Transit is a basic part of how people get to work and school, visit their families, and get to appointments--how people live their lives. But our aging transit system is in need of major investments. We've heard stories from transit riders who have had to wait in the cold with their children for an hour to go to the hospital, because the bus was too crowded and they had to wait for the next one; people who have lost jobs because the bus came late or was too unreliable; and a transit rider who had to spend the night in a homeless shelter because there were no more buses after 9 pm.
We've also heard stories from people who take suburban commuter buses from Eden Prairie. Those buses have wi-fi, reclining seats, and even cupholders.
Ever seen a bus like that in north Minneapolis? Neither have we.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 5.15.05 PM

7. Predatory banking.

When the big banks gambled with our houses and crashed the economy, Wells Fargo was arguably the worst offender. They infiltrated African-American churches looking for potential black borrowers they called "mud people" to whom they could make subprime loans, which they called "ghetto loans." Loan officers received cash incentives for aggressively marketing subprime loans in communities of color.
In Minneapolis, from 2005-2009, Wells Fargo was 4.8 times more likely to make a predatory loan to a black borrower than a white one. From 2009-2012, they took a more explicit redlining approach. Loan denial rates in communities of color in the Twin Cities were three times those of predominantly white communities. The foreclosure crisis has played an enormous, horrifying role in stripping wealth from communities of color. 
Wells Fargo has a major presence in Minneapolis and a close relationship with the city, which has not taken any action to hold Wells Fargo responsible for its actions.
Talk about gross.


6. Catcalling women.

Respect. It's not that complicated. 



5. Not letting people who have served their time vote as soon as they walk out of prison.

The state Senate passed the Felon Voting Restoration Act this year--but despite broad bipartisan support, political games kept the bill from even being heard in the House.

We're calling for the bill to be a priority in the special session. But meanwhile, fifty years after the Voting Rights Act, 47,000 Minnesotans with a past criminal conviction STILL can't vote.

That's a disgrace to the state of Minnesota. In a word: gross.



4. Industrial polluters in neighborhoods with mostly children of color.

The HERC incinerator blows its polluted smoke on either north Minneapolis or the Phillips neighborhood in south Minneapolis, depending on which way the wind is blowing. We were proud to be part of the campaign to keep the HERC incinerator from expanding, but it's still there, polluting our communities. And it's no coincidence that north Minneapolis and the Phillips neighborhood are primarily communities of color.



3. Firing an employee with cancer for taking too many sick days.

Yep. This happened to the mother of Keonna, a 17-year-old NOC member. Because her mother lost her job, Keonna suddenly became the sole breadwinner for her family of seven. This issue seems like a no-brainer, but there is no law against it.

Makes your skin crawl, doesn't it?


2. Public funding for stadiums.

The Minneapolis City Council is currently considering an unprecedented proposal that would allow the new soccer stadium to be exempt from millions of dollars of taxes annually. This proposal comes after taxpayer funding of the Twins and Vikings stadiums within the last ten years.

The property tax exemption they're requesting would come to an estimated $100 million in the first 30 years. That's public money that could be used to build affordable housing, public transit, or small local businesses that would instead be subsidizing a major corporation. Again.




1. Thinly veiled racism.

A new ACLU report shows that people of color in Minneapolis are NINE TIMES more likely to be arrested for low-level offenses than white people--proof that low level arrests in Minneapolis are racialized and disproportionate.

That's way grosser than spitting.



Showing 5 reactions

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  • commented 2015-06-05 13:43:44 -0500
    I agree with Dan’s interpretation of rounding. Sometimes that happens with reporting. The totals added up to 99 percent in the “Who Gets Arrested” column. It’s an artifact of trying to be interpretable in reporting.

    With respect to number 8, I didn’t take from this that their argument was that Eden Prairie is doing something to Minneapolitans. Nor did I see it as a cry against Metro Transit. Rather, I took from it an example of the kind of luxury that CAN be present with increasing infrastructure. The Green Line is an excellent example of how investment in public transit can be extremely functional. This seemed to me to be a call for more investment in public transit by our decision-makers, especially for high-demand areas of the metro area that are currently underserved by the public transit system.
  • commented 2015-06-05 12:33:30 -0500
    Kira, I agree that it’s always a good idea to approach representations of statistical information skeptically, but I strongly suspect that the discrepancy of 1% in the graph illustrating the #1 thing grosser than spitting is just the result of rounding each percentage to the nearest whole number. I don’t know the source of the statistics for this graph, but just as an example of how such a thing could happen, a 2010 census (accessible via the website of the US Census Bureau, www.census.gov) reported that the population of Minneapolis was 63.8% “White alone,” 18.6% “Black or African American alone,” 2.0% “American Indian and Alaska Native alone,” and 5.6% “Asian alone” (there is no “other” category listed on the page I’m reading from; instead, the remaining categories include “Hispanic or Latino,” which overlaps with other categories, leading to a total that differs from 100% by more than 1%). Anyway, rounding the four numbers that I just listed to the nearest 1% results in 64%, 19%, 2%, and 6%, respectively, just like in the graph. This rounding also happens to add a few extra percentage points totaling exactly 1%, and I bet a similar process led to the superfluous 1% in the graph. In my opinion, this type of rounding—if done uniformly in order to make numbers easier to read and understand quickly, rather than selectively in order to distort the impression that the data create—is harmless, even though it sometimes leads to seemingly impossible sums.
  • commented 2015-06-05 10:35:11 -0500
    The graph on #1 has its numbers wrong… In the people who live in Minneapolis section it states that the population is 64% white + 19% black= 83% of the population + 10% “other”= 93% of the population + 6% Asian= 99% of the population + 2% Native Am.= 101% ??????
  • commented 2015-06-05 09:37:02 -0500
    I am also taking issue with #8. Don’t blame the Metro Transit for the city’s budget priority. And with 20,000 riders a day on the brand new green line…. I would hardly call our transit system “aging”.
  • commented 2015-06-04 20:05:23 -0500
    I gotta take issue with #8. Here’s the 3 assumptions I’m working with (which may or may not be correct):

    1) Eden Prairie contributed to pay for a fancy bus like that (anyone know how I could find out if this is true?)
    2) Most people in Eden Prairie can afford to own a car
    3) The city owns like, max, 2 of those kinds of buses.

    So, running on those assumptions, if Eden Prarieites want to pay for a couple fancy buses to commute to work, and if it gets more people onto buses and out of cars, what’s the problem with that? I’m totally jamming on the idea that our transit system needs investment and expansion (bus rider and bike commuter for 6 years), but it’s not those well-meaning cake-eaters’ fault that the urban bus system needs a revamp.

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