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Lansing City Council might repeal 'petty' misdemeanor ordinances

Posted at 8:23 PM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-19 20:53:02-04

LANSING, Mich. — Climbing trees in the park and playing in the street can earn you a misdemeanor in the city of Lansing. One council member is trying to change that.

“Lansing has criminalized some petty conduct that is really not towards public safety and ultimately should be reviewed,” said Brian Jackson, a Lansing City Council member.

Jackson proposed the city repeal 18 low-level criminal ordinances in February.

Council members and other community stakeholders met earlier this month. They reached a consensus on revoking seven of them, including ordinances that prohibit riding a bike in Riverfront Park during an event and swearing in a school.

Jackson, a former prosecutor for the city, says he handled cases where people landed in court because of these misdemeanors.

“I felt sorry for a lot of people who might have been prosecuted for petty things like being in a park after dark or having loud and boisterous conduct or having drug paraphernalia but no drugs on them and just seeing the negative effects that going through the criminal justice system has on them,” he said.

Jackson believes repealing these ordinances could help strengthen the community’s relationship with the Lansing Police Department.

“To take away some of these ordinances would be to reduce the amount of negative contacts the police have and ultimately could reduce some of the chances of those contacts turning even worse,” said Jackson.

While some ordinances are on track to be repealed after the first round of consideration by the council, other more controversial ones like possession of drug paraphernalia are set for a public hearing on April 26.

“That's a great time for the public or anybody to come make their voice heard and their opinion known,” said Jackson.

The hearing will be virtual. More information can be found on the city of Lansing’s website.

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Erica Murphy

Erica Murphy

1:21 PM, Mar 03, 2021

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Erica Murphy