On Saturday April 9, a St. Louis City police officer suffered minor injuries trying to make an arrest near the Metrolink station on Delmar Boulevard. The suspect, a 21-year old adult male, was taken into custody. Charges were taken under advisement and the man was soon released. Shortly after the incident, University City City Manager Lehman Walker and Police Chief Charles Adams, drafted a new law to limit standing on city sidewalks.
Bill No 9112, better known as the "Obstructing or interfering with use of the sidewalks and streets," will make it unlawful for anyone to "unreasonably interfere" with the free use of a sidewalk located anywhere in University City, Missouri. Those breaking the law (of what amounts to standing on a sidewalk) will be fined up to $1,000 per offense.
Supporters of the ordinance, especially business owners in the Delmar Loop business district, say the ordinance will curb loitering and youth gatherings. However, since the ordinance provides absolutely no enforcement guidelines, opponents are sure it will be unfairly used against black youth. Regardless of race, or age, enforcement will be left to the police officer writing the ticket. Do you deserve a $1,000 ticket just because an officer says you were interfering with the use of the sidewalk?
Tell University City Mayor Shelley Welsch and City Council members Terry Crow, Stephen Kraft, Michael Glickert, Lynn Ricci, Byron Price, and Arthur Sharp to reject this discriminatory law which makes standing on the sidewalks a crime.
This proposed new law allegedly would curb loitering and youth gatherings. However, since the law provides absolutely no guidelines on enforcement or warnings; it will be used to criminalize those who are unaware of breaking any violations. Penalties for offenders include up to 1-year in jail and $1,000 fines. People issued tickets will never pay their fines. It makes no sense to put people in jail, costing taxpayers more money, because they can't pay a fine and were caught standing on an already overcrowded sidewalk.
May I suggest enforcing the following University City laws:
9.04.030 Resisting or interfering with arrest.
9.04.050 Failure to comply.
9.04.060 Interference with city officers and employees.
9.04.090 Refusal to identify as a witness.
9.04.100 Concealing an offense.
9.08.010 Affrays/Fighting in Public.
9.08.020 Assault in the third degree.
9.08.040 Disturbing the peace (includes unreasonably and physically obstructing sidewalks).
9.08.050 Unlawful assembly.
9.08.080 Drinking in public places prohibited.
9.08.090 Public drunkenness.
9.08.100 Urinating or defecating in public.
Please tell Police Chief Charles Adams and City Manager Lehman Walker, to use existing ordinances when keeping the Loop safe from offenders.
Again, I urge you to vote NO on Bill 9112 during next Council meeting, Monday May 23, 2011.