- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minneapolis wiped away ordinances Friday that banned lurking and spitting in the city, responding to critics who said the local laws unfairly targeted minorities.

The Minneapolis City Council voted 12-1 to repeal the ordinances, which Mayor Betsy Hodges called antiquated and unnecessary.

But council President Barb Johnson - who cast the lone no vote - said the lurking law allowed police to stop people before they committed crimes in neighborhoods like the north-side ward she represents. She said she worried that disorderly conduct or curfew laws could be the targets.

“My citizens - when they’re contacting me - are concerned about people in their alleys,” Johnson said. “People are sometimes carjacked out of alleys.”

The head of the city’s police union, Lt. Bob Kroll, also opposed the repeal, saying the law was a useful tool for preventing more serious crimes. Minneapolis police said they made 89 arrests for lurking and one for spitting in 2014.

Advocacy groups targeted the ordinances after high-profile shootings in other cities raised tension between police and citizens. And a recent American Civil Liberties Union report found that people arrested for low-level crimes in Minneapolis were nearly nine times more likely to be black or Native American than white.

Miski Noor, an activist with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, said the repeals move the city a step closer toward racial equity. But Noor said comprehensive reform of the criminal justice system is still needed.

St. Paul prohibits loitering or lurking with the intent to commit specific crimes, such as prostitution or selling drugs. The city also has a law against spitting.

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