SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Starting in January, it will no longer be illegal to jaywalk in California, after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill decriminalizing it.
The new law, the Freedom to Walk Act, says you can cross the street anywhere outside an intersection, but only if it's safe to do so.
Police will still be able to stop or ticket you if crossing the street puts you in danger of being hit.
The author of the bill, Assemblyman Phil Ting, (D-San Francisco,) argued jaywalking bills are arbitrarily enforced, and unequally impact poor people and people of color.
"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," Ting said in a statement. "Plus, we should be encouraging people to get out of their cars and walk for health and environmental reasons."
California has numerous cases in which a jaywalking stop has gone wrong.
In September 2020, San Clemente Police killed Kurt Reinhold after pulling up to him and falsely accusing him of jaywalking.
In the Bay Area, Chinedu Okobi was killed nearly four years ago in Millbrae by San Mateo County deputies in an attempt to arrest him for jaywalking.
And in 2017, Sacramento Police beat Nandi Cain after stopping him for jaywalking, causing serious injuries.
The victims in each of these cases were Black, and video captured each incident. In addition, 2018-2020 data compiled by the California Racial and Identity Profiling Act shows Black Californians are severely overrepresented when it comes to being stopped for jaywalking, up to four-and-a-half times more than their white counterparts.