Monday, August 11, 2008

Old Anti-Loitering Law Tossed in Berkeley

by Chris Thompson
Mon, Aug 11, 2008 at 8:30 AM

In April 2007, sez the Trib, a homeless disabled woman named Kim Nemirow was enjoying the sun in South Berkeley's Willard Park when a police officer apparently decided he didn't like the look of her. Nemirow started to pull her possessions together and hit the road, but that wasn't good enough for the cop. And it looks like he had the law on his side; namely, a 1946 anti-loitering ordinance that criminalized loitering near any public place where children may be present. How's that for fun? Fortunately, Nemirow had the presence of mind to take the ticket straight to the East Bay Community Law Center, where attorneys challenged the citation in court and denounced it as nothing more than a tool to make the lives of homeless people miserable. The city didn't fight back, and the case was dismissed. In addition, the City Council unanimously rescinded the law. As attorney Osha Newman said, "What the heck are parks for, if not for loitering?"

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