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Are New Jackson Ordinances Discriminatory Overreach?

Commissioner Maurice Imhoff worries ordinances criminalize harmless activity, discriminate against the vulnerable and people of color
Posted at 9:44 PM, Jul 01, 2024
  • Jackson Human Relations Commissioner Maurice Imhoff says he worries two new Jackson City ordinances will disproportionately impact people of color and vulnerable populations.
  • One ordinance prohibits "nuisance gatherings", another addresses "loitering and accosting".
  • Imhoff urges City Council to reconsider (READ HIS LETTER TO COUNCIL MEMBERS BELOW), says he has personally experienced discriminatory application of the nuisance gathering ordinance.
  • Jackson County Chamber of Commerce CEO Ryan Tarrant responds to concerns about the "loitering and accosting" ordinance

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

"With this new ordinance they can go and begin full criminal investigations just by them hanging out there" — concerns from Maurice Imhoff that a new nuisance gathering ordinance passed by City Council wrongly criminalizes normal activity.

He says he experienced that concern first hand:

"We were sitting watching the sunset — just a couple of guys — and they come up and, you know, they remove us."

And he believes they were singled out based on their race.

In a letter to City Council Member, Imhoff urged City Council to reconsider the ordinance, along with an ordinance that seeks to limit loitering and accosting.

The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce had pushed for that second ordinance to pass, responding to local business safety concerns.

Chamber CEO Ryan Tarrant says that ordinance targets only aggressive behavior:

"It's very narrowly defined on what loitering and accosting was."

The ordinance prohibits specific aggressive actions, like blocking access to buildings, refusing to leave when asked, certain aggressive behavior around ATMs and outdoor dining areas.


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