Imagine how smooth city council meetings would run if council members could enforce a ban on being “willfully annoying” during public comment.
Fortunately for the resident town pest, the Grand Rapids, MI City Commission is striking a 38-year-old section of their city code that reads, “no person shall willfully annoy another person.” Offenders of the statute could be sentenced for up to 90 days in jail.
The move was prompted by the city’s attorney, who stated that its language is subject to a wide variety of interpretations.
“It’s unconstitutional in terms of being vague,” City Attorney Catherine Mish said to the Grand Rapids Press. “It’s simply unenforceable.”
This is not the first time a city has attempted to outlaw annoying behavior. In 2008, the small Michigan town of Brighton passed an ordinance that read: “It shall be unlawful for a person to engage in a course of conduct or repeatedly commit acts that alarm or seriously annoy another person and that serve no legitimate purpose.” Violators could receive a $100 civil offense fine.
Mish has spent a fair amount of her time examining books of Grand Rapid’s code to root out archaic laws.
“We have been a city since 1850 and have a two-volume code book that is over 5,000 pages,” Mish told NBC News. “It’s like sediment — they keep piling up in layers, and every 40 years we have to weed it out.”
According to the Associated Press, last year the city commission reviewed a rule that allowed for jail time as a feasible consequence for failing to return a library book.
Final approval on the code change is expected March 11.
Read more at Grand Rapids Press.