A number of laborers, business owners and residents announced their intention to protest a law that prohibits loitering in their Orange County, North Carolina town. The ordinance currently makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to “stand, sit, recline, linger, or otherwise remain” at a certain intersection in the town between 11 am and 5 am.
The law was implemented in 2007 in order to deal with complaints regarding frequent drinking, disorderly behavior, trespassing and public urination at the site. The intersection is reportedly a favorite meeting place of day laborers who wait at the intersection for contractors that need employees. Officials have denied that these workers are the subject of the complaints.
The protesters planned to congregate at the corner where they were to read a letter urging the town’s aldermen to rescind the rule. The letter, which has been signed by more than 110 members of the community, claims that the law violates the human and civil rights of citizens who wish to be at the corner legally.
The law previously came under fire after the Southern Coalition for Social Justice sent a letter accusing the town of restricting its citizens’ right to work. As evidence, it included a ruling from a North Carolina Court of Appeals case that stated one’s presence in a public place cannot legally be considered a crime.
The group planned to meet at 11 a.m., placing them in direct violation of the ordinance. The mayor of the town said that he did not expect authorities to arrest the protestors, calling political protest one of “the most constitutionally protected forms of speech.”
Source: News & Observer, “Protest to challenge Carrboro loitering law,” Dave Hart, Oct. 24, 2011