Seattle council mulls bills repealing loitering crimes for drug offenders, sex workers

Jun 16, 2020, 11:38 AM | Updated: 11:43 am

Councilmember Andrew Lewis, loitering, defund police seattle, 911...

Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis. (Facebook)


Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis introduced a pair of bills Monday, which would eliminate the loitering crimes as they relate to drug trafficking and prostitution.

Seattle council approves ban on tear gas, police chokeholds

Drug trafficking loitering laws emerged throughout the U.S. in the 1990s as part of the “War on Drugs,” allowing police to arrest someone for loitering who they suspected of being a drug offender.

Similarly, prostitution loitering laws allow police to arrest someone for a loitering crime without clearly establishing whether a suspect was soliciting prostitution.

Both laws have historically targeted people of color.

“This is an outdated, and frankly racist policy in our City’s municipal code.” Councilmember Tammy Morales said. “By repealing this part of the code we are assured that drug offenders and sex workers will be treated humanely and not criminalized.”

Morales and Councilmember Alex Pedersen are co-sponsors with Lewis on the bill addressing prostitution loitering.

Seattle council clashes over how to address state head tax proposal

The proposed repeal measures came about as part of a longer series of recommendations from a workgroup commissioned by the city in 2018, to develop policy ideas assisting incarcerated individuals with reentry into society.

Voicing support for the measures was Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, who helped Lewis draft the drug trafficking loitering repeal.

“I have long questioned the use of loitering crimes as a law enforcement tool, and am grateful that the 2018 Reentry Workgroup helped shine a light on their racist origins,” Holmes said, noting that his office has not filed charges for either crime since the workgroup submitted its recommendations two years ago.

Both bills will be voted on in the full council session scheduled for Monday, June 22.

MyNorthwest News

Former President Donald Trump sits in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, on May 20, 2024. (...

Bill Kaczaraba

Bellevue man donates $1 million to Trump super PAC

A Bellevue man donated $1 million to a Political Action Committee (PAC) that supports Donald Trump just a day after he became a convicted felon.

15 hours ago

Photo: Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson....

James Lynch

Auburn Officer Jeff Nelson’s fate now in hands of jury

It has been five years since Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson shot and killed 26-year-old Jesse Sarey who was going through a crisis.

16 hours ago

Queen Anne, Uptown, parking...

Bill Kaczaraba

Power company investigating early morning outage to Queen Anne, Magnolia

Seattle City Light wants to know why 10,000 customers lost power in the early morning hours on Saturday.

17 hours ago

Image: A Seattle Police Department vehicle can be seen parked in the city of Seattle....

Bill Kaczaraba

Police search for suspects in West Seattle fatal shooting

In the early hours of Saturday morning, Seattle Police detectives launched an investigation into a fatal shooting in West Seattle.

18 hours ago

Photo: Medics respond to a crash in SeaTac on June 21, 2024....

Julia Dallas

1 killed, several others injured in major SeaTac car crash

Five people and two cars were involved in a violent car crash in SeaTac on Friday, the King County Sheriff's Office told KIRO Newsradio.

1 day ago

Photo: Lacey police are investigating a deadly shooting....

KIRO 7 News Staff

21-year-old arrested in Lacey double murder after police chase

A 21-year-old man led police on a chase following the murder of two people whom he lived with in Lacey.

1 day ago

Seattle council mulls bills repealing loitering crimes for drug offenders, sex workers