Neighborhood Story Revised

The law allowing the City of Eugene to bar local residents from downtown is set to expire this fall amid controversy and a lack of support.

The law allows police to request individuals be banned from setting foot downtown when they have been charged with a minor crimes. Exclusion zones were first implemented as an alternative to jailing individuals in order to cut down on overcrowding but violating the exclusion order is itself a misdemeanor and can lead to jail time anyway. A short term exclusion order of 90 days can be placed on someone before they’re actually convicted in a municipal court. It’s similar to when someone gets a speeding ticket but in a criminal case. That also means the city isn’t required to provide an attorney to those affected by an exclusion request.

“At its root these exclusion zones are a way to get around the due process protections guaranteed in criminal cases.” Executive Director of the Eugene ACLU David Fidanque said.

“It’s a civil procedure not a criminal procedure. They don’t have the right to an attorney, the right to a jury trial or any of the rights one would have in a criminal case. That’s the whole point; to avoid the criminal process.”

If the Eugene Police Department attempts to renew the law or make it permanent, the Lane County ACLU is ready to oppose it; but would be willing to take the initiative on the issue in the event a “particularly egregious” case came to its attention.

Fidanque is confidant the bill be allowed to expire now that Claire Syrett, a former ACLU member who has lobbied against the exclusion zone, has joined the city council.

“Whether it will expire with after some further discussion with [the city] council, I don’t know yet, it’s too soon to know. I do think it’s in its last months.”

The Eugene Chamber of Commerce was a major proponent of the exclusion zone and funds a private security force that operates downtown. President of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce David Hauser says he is “almost certain” the law will expire and described the law as a “less than perfect public safety tool.”

He has since joined a community task force in order to develop alternatives to the exclusion zone. A preliminary list of ideas includes increased graffiti charges, expanding the use of private security and installing cameras.

The exclusion zone is set to expire November 30th.

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4 Responses to Neighborhood Story Revised

  1. mallorypd says:

    You have some really great sources and information in this story. However, your lead was short which caused me to be little confused when you started in to the second paragraph. Also, make sure you clarify what ACLU is for people who may not already know.

  2. I really like how clear your lead is. I would put a quote up earlier in your story before you start explaining all the logistics of the new law.

  3. vantulde says:

    I think you chose a very interesting topic for your story. It definitely reveals an interesting controversy regarding the civil liberty aspect of “exclusion zones”. I do like how you give some background into the law at the beginning. You provide some interesting quotes from David Fidanque and Claire Syret, who both oppose the law.

    However, your story seems to be missing the opposing point of view. You did mention that the Eugene Chamber of Commerce was a proponent of the “exclusion zones”. Still, I think your story would be better with quotes from someone arguing in favor of them.

    I also think that you should include the name of law in the beginning of your story. Though you explain the law, you don’t provide the name of it. Readers might be less likely to be informed on the issue and verify these facts for themselves.

    – Steven Vantulden

  4. williamjt says:

    I like your story, but if you had something that acted more as a hook in the first couple paragraphs. I’m sure you tried, but it would be pretty interesting if you could find someone who was actually banned from downtown to interview.

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