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NYCHA Loitering Rules Too Vague for Arrests: Judge

A federal judge is allowing lawsuits challenging NYCHA trespassing arrests, on the basis that the rules for loitering are too vague in common areas.

A federal judge in Manhattan ruled on Thursday that loitering rules in public housing were too vague, and gave police too much power to arrest, according to the New York Times.

Judge Shira Scheindlin allowed a lawsuit challenging arrests for trespassing in housing projects this week, questioning whether the city and the Housing Authority are “acting within constitutional limits in their presumably sincere efforts to provide a safe environment for the residents of public housing,” according to the article.

Scheindlin ruled that the police cannot arrest someone for trespassing “if the only facts known to the police are that the person says she does not live in the building and refuses to say more about her license or privilege to be there,” and concluded that signs in public housing complexes that prohibit loitering are unconstitutionally vague, when they are the basis for police arrests.

Brenda Cooke, a lawyer for the city, told the Times that Scheindlin’s ruling does not mean that police patrols in NYCHA common areas are unlawful.

In one case that Scheindlin allowed to go forward, Lashaun Smith, 34, claimed that cops stopped him as he was leaving a friend’s home at the Langston Hughes Apartments in Brownsville. According to the paper, he was arrested when the person who answered the door to the apartment could not corroborate his story.

Scheindlin noted, though, that the person answering the door was the younger brother of Smith’s friend, who is blind.

BRADY October 05, 2012 at 09:03 PM
i don't get it ,NO LOITERING is self explanitory,if this property belongs to the NYCHA is'nt the HA allowed to prohibit who comes and goes on it's own property why would someone be on private property, say'' I dont live here'' and then refuse to say anything else ,that would never happen on any other type of private property,don't the residents of the housing projects deserve the same safety and security

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