Earlier this month, the city council voted unanimously to eliminate tickets for jaywalking in Kansas City after the general counsel to the mayor revealed that Black people are disproportionately more likely to receive pedestrian tickets.

Of the 123 jaywalking tickets issued in Kansas City from 2018 to 2020, 65% were given to Black pedestrians, while Black people make up just 30% of the city’s population. In addition, out of all pedestrian tickets during that time, 54% were given to Black people.

The ordinance says jaywalking “can expose individuals to unnecessary interactions with police and studies have shown jaywalking and similar laws are disproportionately enforced on communities of color.”

“Kansas City has serious offenses that need our focus. Jaywalking is not one of them,” said Mayor Quinton Lucas.

In written testimony, KC Tenants expressed their support for the ordinance: “Archaic laws which criminalize everyday activities of your poor and working-class neighbors furthers the idea that our wellbeing is not a priority. Passing Ordinance 210100 would be one step in the right direction to ensure that we can feel safe in our city, free to live our lives and take care of our families without the fear of being stopped and fined by an officer for doing just that.”

The legislation is part of a bigger push from Lucas to eliminate laws that disproportionately impact Black Kansas Citians. In the past year, city council has also decriminalized a certain level of marijuana possession and parking violations. Previously, both of these charges were misdemeanors. Now the violations include a fine, but not a criminal charge.

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