They’ve rarely protected pedestrians, and their enforcement is racially biased. Two street safety experts say there are better ways to curb traffic violence.
On Sept. 23, Kurt Andreas Reinhold, a 42-year-old Black man, was trying to cross a street in San Clemente, California, when two officers from a special “homeless outreach unit” stopped him. An altercation ensued; minutes later, Reinhold, a father of two and down-on-his-luck former youth soccer coach, was shot and killed. In a cellphone video of the confrontation, Reinhold can be heard demanding, “Where did I jaywalk?”
This is a particularly troubling example of a pattern we see all too often. Black and Brown people, especially men, are routinely targeted by police for jaywalking or simply existing in public space. Often these stops result in an escalating series of fines and fees. In other cases — as in San Clemente, as well as in Sacramento, Seattle and New York City — they can end in violence.