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Ohio ACLU Says Youngstown's Proposed Anti-Loitering Ordinance is Unconstitutional and Discriminatory

Joe Mead

The Ohio ACLU is calling on Youngstown to drop a proposed anti-loitering law.

If passed, the ordinance will allow police to arrest residents for sitting on benches or wandering around the city.

ACLU attorney Joe Mead says the proposal will allow Youngstown police to discriminate against homeless people and punish what he calls innocent behavior.

“I’m very concerned by some of the comments that some of the officials have made suggesting that they know who they want to target with this ordinance. So it seems to be directed at people rather than behavior. And typically our laws are targeted at behavior that is harmful, not people that we don’t like,” Mead said.

Youngstown mayor John McNally says the ordinance is the result of loitering complaints from downtown businesses and residents.

McNally on the ordinance.

“We were starting to hear complaints from the business community and our downtown residents about the presence of these folks and we believe that the anti-loitering statute that we’ve put before council is something that is constitutional, that it’s enforceable,” he said.

McNally says he is confident the law is constitutional and fair.

He hopes city council will pass the law at their meeting next Wednesday.