Loitering. Nationwide, businesses are confounded with the problem of individuals who have the apparent goal of standing around pointlessly with no desire to purchase any goods, but to merely engage in prolonged periods of fixed lingering.
No attempt is made to make a transaction by these loiterers, but shuffling around endlessly causing discomfort to those who are shopping is an unsettling byproduct of such behavior.
In every effort to maintain positive relations with the law, businesses erect “No Loitering” signs that are attempts to discourage the persistent lurking of unwanted individuals who make no effort to be called customers.
By law, businesses cannot discriminate against would be customers by the basis of their race, ethnicity or religion, but placing “No Loitering” signs in clear visibility is an indicator of that companies uneasiness with people of color.
Policies of “No Loitering” are in place at most malls across America, restaurants and bars and even theme parks:
Walt Disney World ejected four of Florida State University’s top football prospects from Downtown Disney last weekend under its anti-gang, no-loitering policy.The four, including the son of a Disney manager and the son of a Philadelphia civil-rights lawyer, were banned for life from Disney World property late Friday.A Disney spokeswoman said the youths were expelled because they had been loitering for an extended period and refused to leave when Disney security told them to.Parents of the youths wonder whether there’s another reason: They’re black.”I keep thinking to myself, `This is crazy,’ ” said Mark Nugent, stepfather of Vincent Williams, football star at Ridge Community High School in Polk County. “Once they realized they weren’t gangbangers, why didn’t they let them go? They took their pictures. They fingerprinted them. And treated them like common criminals.”Because of concerns about a rise in ganglike activity at Downtown Disney lately, loitering or “any other inappropriate behavior” by groups of youths is not going to be tolerated, spokeswoman Jacquee Polak said Tuesday.
“No Loitering” signs are legal because the business owner is not practicing discrimination against customers, but preempting thievery by singling out shiftless layabouts who make no effort to part with their cash.
Black people often bear the brunt of “No Loitering” signs because of their willingness to travel in packs, which can be mistaken for gangs. Across the nation, discernible patterns of petty theft, crime and destructive decisions are attributed to Black people, which makes business owners weary of their presence.
A growing number of youths had begun loitering on the Plaza in recent weeks with trouble erupting Easter weekend. Police estimated 300 to 500 youths gathered April 3, caused fights and displayed gang signs. Police used pepper spray to break up several fights. Officers arrested a 17-year-old in a car with a gun.
Loitering drives away qualified customers who find the presence of such vagrants a sign of potential trouble and a dis-settling shopping experience. Worse, the nightclub experience for Black people is often objectionable due to an unpleasantly frequent derelict who is participating in loitering outside the club:
City officials have formed a committee and are crafting new rules to address concerns of violence and other problems at local nightclubs, in the wake of a deadly shooting at the Everyday Club and Lounge. Located at 1603 Seventh Ave. N., the Everyday Club and Lounge Thursday stood vacant and silent, closed in the aftermath of the violence. And nearby residents were pleased at the emptiness. “My kids can’t come out and play, since I’ve been here,” Lashonda Jordan, who has lived in apartments across from the club since August 2009, said, noting she was “glad” the club was closed. “It’s ridiculous … Black, white, no matter. It’s ridiculous how people are acting.” Quentin Antonio “Que” Spencer, 20, of 455 Merry Valley Drive in Columbus, was killed in an April 20 shooting at the club, in which an unnamed suspect opened fire, also injuring three others… The committee also will be requesting bar owners sign agreements giving the CPD permission to “ride through” problem areas and warn loiterers and people engaged in potentially dangerous or problem behavior around the clubs for first offenses, with second offenders to be “picked up” by the CPD. And “no loitering signs” will be placed on club buildings, Smith added.
These signs are aimed specifically at Black people, in a legal attempt by business owners to dissuade prospective miscreants from adding to the already overburdened penal system in America.
In Washington DC, an anti-loitering bill was introduced to discourage such behavior:
A bill criminalizing gatherings of more than two people in DC is drawing outrage and opposition from community and labor activists, as well as civil rights advocates. “This is a clear and blatant violation of the Constitutionally-guaranteed right of the American people to assemble,” said Metro Council President Jos Williams. “That it’s been introduced in the nation’s capitol is a travesty of justice.” The Hot-Spot No-Loitering bill, recently introduced by Councilmember Jim Graham, would empower the DC police to declare a “hotspot zone” at any time, making it a crime to gather with two or more people on public property and giving the police the power to arrest people in the targeted zone with $300 fine and/or 180 days in jail.
Washington DC is more than 65 percent Black. Worse, the problem of Black crime is found nationwide and is not geographically isolated. In some cases, incidences of loitering by Black people can get so bad, entire malls must shut down in an effort to stave off financial losses:
Highland Mall closed early on Saturday, a day when the Texas Relays were in town, “because the safety and security of our shoppers and retailers is our top priority,” according to an e-mail from the mall’s general manager. Because the Texas Relays attract visitors who are mostly African American, the mall closing sends the message that Austin does not welcome their business. But the reaction from the blogosphere was mixed, with some defending the mall’s action as prudent in the face of an unwelcome invasion of rowdy teenagers. The struggle to racially integrate lunch counters in the 1960s made history. But equally important was the struggle to integrate shopping. The Highland Mall debacle shows that society is far from achieving that goal. During the civil rights era, equal access to stores was high on the list of demands for racial justice. Before Jim Crow laws were repealed, many stores restricted their facilities to whites only. Black customers often were not allowed to try on clothes, eat at lunch counters, or use public restroom facilities in stores.
Small towns even implement “No Loitering” policies, to the bereavement of Black parents:
After her 30 year old son was arrested for loitering at Simms Street Apartments on Friday, April 16, mama was not happy. But it was apparently the Public Safety Viper Team she was angry at berating one officer and telling him he was doing the work of the white man.
Officer Bradley told several persons they would have to move along. One male, identified as “Durrell”, looked over at Calvin Butler, sitting in a chair in front of a building, and said “Xxck these motherxxxxers, lets go”. Sergeant James Dollar warned the male that his conduct was disorderly, and that he could be arrested, especially with the numerous small children in the area. Sergeant Dollar advised “Durrell” and Calvin Butler to move along and leave the property immediately. Durrell continued to curse and be belligerent but walked on to an apartment porch. Butler, who had a white cup full of beer in his hand, was muttering and arguing with officers saying he did not want to be there anyway.
Loitering is a grave problem because it drives away respectable business, potentially bringing about financial ruination to said owner and depriving a community of an important part of the local economy.
The market started using classical music about three years ago to repel loiterers and vandals from their buildings. Senn said the method appears to be working. Since he began playing the music, Senn said he hasn’t called police to the lot as much, although the Seattle Police Department wasn’t able to confirm that. Businesses and transportation systems use classical, opera and country music as a crime-fighting tool around the globe.
Stuff Black People Don’t Like includes no loitering signs, because Black people are painfully aware that they speak directly to them. Well, and Jay and Silent Bob.
If dress codes can’t keep Black people out, “No Loitering” signs will.