Let’s Get Rid of Jaywalking Laws

Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal/ZUMAPRESS

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

In the Guardian today, Arwa Mahdawi takes on US jaywalking laws:

Why is jaywalking even against the law? There is no such offence in much of Europe, including in the UK — although Ken Livingstone apparently proposed making jaywalking illegal while he was mayor of London. In the US, however, you can get a hefty fine and even go to jail for it.

….Jaywalking laws are not evenly applied: enforcement disproportionally targets people of colour. In 2019, for example, 90% of illegal-walking tickets issued by New York police were to black and Hispanic people. The laws are one small part of widespread systemic racism, but they are also part of the ongoing privatisation of public spaces. The streets don’t belong to communities any more — they belong to individuals, driving around in expensive cars.

Aside from the usual tedious hit on people who drive cars, I’m on board with this. Not only do I agree that jaywalking laws are mostly dumb and useless, but I’m all in favor of anything that reduces police encounters with people of color—especially those that can be used routinely as a pretext for hassling someone just for the hell of it. One of the goals of police reform should be the elimination of low-level offenses like this that give police too much discretion to harass anyone they want with no good reason. Getting rid of jaywalking laws is a good place to start.

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate