Carrboro repeals anti-loitering ordinance

CorrespondentNovember 23, 2011 

— The Board of Aldermen unanimously rescinded a 2007 ordinance Tuesday night that limited the hours day laborers could seek work at the corner of Jones Ferry and Davie roads.

The vote was a victory for the workers and their supporters, some of whom have argued for nearly four years that the ordinance is unconstitutional, because it limits the public’s First Amendment right to assembly.

Some workers told the board that the ordinance also has reduced the number of available jobs, because employers sometimes don’t look for help until later in the day. That has left many of the workers with very little money to buy food and support their families, they said.

The ordinance banned loitering at the corner from 11 a.m. to 5 a.m. and came in response to many neighbors' complaints about public drunkenness, urination and harassment of female passersby.

The vote also approved Alderwoman Jacquie Gist’s recommendation that the town turn its attention next to strengthening a local harassment ordinance to make lewd speech directed at women a hate crime. Sexual harassment was among the issues central to the anti-loitering ordinance initially being enacted.

“In any culture, grabbing your crotch and saying do you want a piece of this … that is a physical threat and hate speech the same as I’m going to bash your head in,” Gist said.

The board also voted unanimously Tuesday to pursue collaboration with community partners like the Chapel Hill and Carrboro Human Rights Center and El Centro Hispano to turn a half-time position at the HRC into a full-time staff person who could work at the corner to help day laborers and mediate neighborhood issues. Alderman Dan Coleman suggested as part of the proposal that the town might be able to find additional money to help pay for the staff position.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service