Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new law decriminalizing jaywalking across California because it is supposedly enforced more on minorities.
The new law, AB 2147, known as the “Freedom to Walk Act,” aims to end minorities being supposedly targeted for the offense.
The difference between Californians and urban dwellers elsewhere in the country was highlighted in the 2011 film Friends with Benefits.
Assembly member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) – the bill’s sponsor, praised Newsom’s action in a statement on Friday:
“It should not be a criminal offense to safely cross the street,” Ting said.
“When expensive tickets and unnecessary confrontations with police impact only certain communities, it’s time to reconsider how we use our law enforcement resources and whether our jaywalking laws really do protect pedestrians,” Ting added.
“Plus, we should be encouraging people to get out of their cars and walk for health and environmental reasons.”
The new law is Ting’s second attempt to decriminalize jaywalking in the state, as he looks to bring fairness in how fines are assessed.
As Breitbart notes: Jaywalking is arbitrarily enforced throughout California, with tickets disproportionately given to people of color and lower-income individuals who cannot afford tickets that can often total hundreds of dollars.
When the law goes into effect on January 1, 2023, fewer working families will struggle to pay the costly citation, and police would not be able to use jaywalking as a pretext to detain someone.
The new law prevents law enforcement officers from stopping pedestrians for jaywalking unless it’s obvious the person crossing the street is in “immediate danger of collision with a moving vehicle or other device moving exclusively by human power.”
Proponents say the law is a win in decriminalizing jaywalking saying tickets are given to low-income individuals or minorities.
“No longer will law enforcement be able to stop people who are safely crossing the street and burden them with citations and heaps of debt,” said Zal Shroff, senior staff attorney at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.
“For too long, our jaywalking laws were used as a pretext to stop and harass people, especially low-income people and people of color,” he said.
“The reforms enacted in AB 2147 will put an end to that and, in doing so, make all of California safer for pedestrians.”