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.
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.
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.
7. Predatory banking.
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.