America’s laws against lingering have roots in Medieval and Elizabethan England. Since 1342, the goal has always been to keep anyone “out of place” away.

Editor’s note: A series of racially charged incidents of “loitering” have triggered national outrage recently. This month, CityLab's visual storyteller Ariel Aberg-Riger dives into the long history of laws against being somewhere you’re not wanted.

Further Reading:

  • “Vagrancy Laws and the 1960s,” C-SPAN
  • “The Forgotten Law That Gave Police Nearly Unlimited Power,” Time
  • “Racial Profiling via Nextdoor.com,” East Bay Express
  • “The Yes Loitering Project Ask Kids of Color to Rethink Public Space,” Fast Company
  • “#WhyLoiter Reclaims Public—and Inner—Space for Indian Women,” PRI
  • “Black Women vs. White Men in Public Spaces: Crosswalk Experiment and Relevance,” Girl with Pen
  • “How Punitive and Racist Policing Enforces Gentrification in San Francisco,” Truthout
  • “The Criminalization of Gentrifying Neighborhoods,” The Atlantic

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