While California struggles with a rise in crime and its own residents flocking to other states, all seems to be well for its Governor, Gavin Newsom. Not only did he beat a recall election not that long ago, but now numerous outlets like The Guardian propose the idea of him running for President in 2024. Given the lackluster performance from Joe Biden, rumors have circulated that the Democrats might be looking for a change. But again, things aren’t looking great for California, but that might be changing thanks to Newsom signing AB 2147 into law on Friday.
What exactly is AB 2147? It is the Freedom to Walk Act, and it decriminalized jaywalking not because it was an outdated law but due to it mostly targeting people of color. That’s right, after the law was signed, Zal Shroff, a Senior Staff Attorney, stated, “All Californians will benefit from the Governor’s decision to sign AB 2147—the Freedom to Walk Act—into law. No longer will law enforcement be able to stop people who are safely crossing the street and burden them with citations and heaps of debt. For too long, our jaywalking laws were used as a pretext to stop and harass people, especially low-income people and people of color. The reforms enacted in AB 2147 will put an end to that and, in doing so, make all of California safer for pedestrians.”
Although signed by Gavin Newsom, the bill was first introduced by Phil Ting, a Democratic Assemblyman. He declared, “It should not be a criminal offense to safely cross the street. When expensive tickets and unnecessary confrontations with police impact only certain communities, it’s time to reconsider how we use our law enforcement resources and whether our jaywalking laws really do protect pedestrians. Plus, we should be encouraging people to get out of their cars and walk for health and environmental reasons.”
In another statement from Phil Ting’s office, it read, “When the law goes into effect on January 1, 2023, fewer working families will struggle to pay the costly citation, and police would not be able to use jaywalking as a pretext to detain someone.”
A Senior Policy Advocate for CalBike, Jared Sanchez, suggested a simple citation for jaywalking can turn into a “life-threatening police encounter.” “Jaywalking laws do more than turn an ordinary and logical behavior into a crime; they also create opportunities for police to racially profile. A jaywalking ticket can turn into a potentially life-threatening police encounter, especially for Black people, who are disproportionately targeted and suffer the most severe consequences of inequitable law enforcement.”
The new law will go into effect on January 1, 2023. This comes just days after California police search for a supposed serial killer linked to five murders.