No Loitering. Seriously. Scram!

Bill would allow DC police to disperse loiterers

WASHINGTON -- You don't gotta go home, but you can't stay here.

In a move that is sure to cause yet another constitutional battle in the District, D.C. Council member Jim Graham is proposing anti-loitering legislation that would allow police to disperse two or more people gathered in areas known for illegal activity.

The Ward 1 Democrat introduced the measure on Tuesday.

The police chief would use statistics about arrests for drug, gang, theft and violent crimes to create "hot spot loitering zones." Violators could face a $300 fine.

In the past, civil rights activists have questioned whether similar legislation would infringe on residents' right to assemble. The new bill would give the mayor authority to create rules to protect "persons who are engaged in assembly protected by the Constitution."

Graham said he proposed similar anti-loitering legislation in July 2005 and in February 2007, but concerns were raised about infringing upon civil liberties, according to the Washington Post. "I have wrestled with this issue for years," he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us