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Loitering Law

November 09, 1995

* This is in reference to the new state loitering law scheduled to go into effect in January (Oct. 18). It hits a new low in unconstitutionality. It gives police the power to arrest someone with no indication that he or she has committed any crime. All that is necessary is that a police officer intuits that the person "looks like" he or she "intends" to commit a crime, particularly one related to prostitution or drugs.

This means that a law-abiding citizen who remains too long in one place, speaks to someone, beckons a car, things we all do every day, is subject to arrest. They say the law is aimed at places where drug and prostitution activity is common, but you might as well read, in poor and predominantly minority areas. Race is probably a factor.

Whatever you think of the laws concerning drugs and prostitution, the new law is way out of bounds. I favor laws against stealing, but to arrest someone for "looking like" he is going to steal, is something I would never condone.

All we can do is hope the courts will strike it down, or at least that it will not be well enforced. Otherwise, we are now living in a bona fide police state.

ALICE LILLIE

Los Angeles

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