Alley proposal nixed

by Elizabeth Cook

Pedestrians can still walk in alleys after weeks of discussion between residents and Minneapolis City Council members.

The council voted 10-3 Friday to reject a proposed ordinance that would restrict alleys to property owners and city workers.

Ward 6 council member Robert Lilligren sponsored the proposal to restrict alley access to residents, emergency and public services and invitees.

According to the proposal, Lilligren created the ordinance to protect pedestrians from motor vehicles and to reduce crime. The proposal was similar to a Minneapolis ordinance already that limits vehicle alley access to residents.

According to the proposal, no other cities in the country have similar laws.

Cam Gordon, Ward 2 council member who represents the University area, said he was against the ordinance because it could cause profiling, separation of community and it would create more work, rather than deter crime.

“It moves us in the wrong direction,” he said. “I don’t want to privatize more on public spaces.”

The city should keep alleys open and do more community policing, Gordon said.

For many criminals in Minneapolis, he said, an alley citation wouldn’t make a difference in their behavior.

During the City Council meeting, Gordon said the ordinance would be another tool police could misuse to target people who aren’t part of the “dominant culture.”

“We should only make a law when it applies to everybody,” he said.

English and philosophy sophomore Sara Mickelson said racial profiling already is a problem in airports and the ordinance would make alleys acceptable for it.

“I definitely think it could perpetuate more profiling on race or class,” she said.

She said the idea of banning alley use seems “ridiculous.”

“I don’t hear about a lot of alleyway crime,” she said.

Ward 5 council member Don Samuels voted for the ordinance because the alleys in his neighborhood are hot spots for drugs and prostitution.

He said some council members focused on alleys in their safer neighborhoods and didn’t consider what happens in his north Minneapolis neighborhood.

University sophomore Stephanie Karker said it’s a good idea to stop alley crime, but she didn’t agree with the proposal.

She said that even though the proposal was extreme, she knows alleys can be dangerous.

“I wouldn’t walk through an alleyway anyways,” she said. “It’s creepy.”