Opponents of Carrboro’s anti-lingering ordinance will break the rules today — in an effort to get them repealed.
Residents, day laborers and local civil rights groups will gather at 11 a.m. at the intersection of Davie and Jones Ferry Roads for a press conference opposing the ordinance, which makes it a misdemeanor to linger at the corner between 11 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Day laborers gather at the corner each morning to wait for employers to pick them up.
The Carrboro Board of Alderman passed the measure in 2007 to limit when people could gather there to discourage behaviors like littering and drinking.
The board has been working to find a replacement for the measure after the Southern Coalition for Social Justice called its constitutionality into question this summer, but some think the process has been too slow.
“Every day it’s on the books it’s a blight to Carrboro’s good reputation,” said Stephen Dear, a resident who authored a letter in opposition to the ordinance that the group will deliver to town hall after the press conference.
The letter has been endorsed by more than 100 people, including day laborers and previous Board of Alderman members, Dear said.
He said the measure infringes on first amendment rights by preventing people from standing in a public place.
Chris Brook, a staff attorney with the coalition, said the group has worked alongside town residents, day laborers, the Chapel Hill and Carrboro Human Rights Center and the UNC Center for Civil Rights to organize today’s event.
“I think it’s a way to focus the community’s attention on this issue when we’re all going to the polls. I think it’s also a way to demonstrate how broad — and overly broad — this ordinance is,” Brook said.
Brook said he hopes to see 15 to 20 people attend the press conference.
“It’s a press conference, not a rally. Our goal is to urge to Board of Aldermen to repeal it’s ordinance,” Dear said.
Carrboro has set a public hearing on the ordinance for late November, Brook said, and Mayor Mark Chilton said he believes the board is already poised to change the legislation.
Chilton said the measure wasn’t aimed at laborers at its inception.
He said people at the corner in the mid-afternoon — after workers had left for jobs — littered, consumed alcohol and went to the bathroom in public, and the ordinance aimed to stop those issues.
“I think it has largely achieved that goal,” he said.
Chilton said he doesn’t believe the measure is unconstitutional, though he agreed that it might undermine the welcoming atmosphere Carrboro hopes to foster.
“We have a broad authority to regulate traffic,” he said. “It’s regulating what happens on a stretch of sidewalk.”
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