Alex White responds to proposal to create drug-free zones in the city


Alex White. - FILE PHOTO
  • Alex White.
Green Party mayoral candidate Alex White says that a proposal by City Council member Adam McFadden to create drug-free zones in the City of Rochester is misguided and would create “rights-free zones” instead.

White held a press conference outside City Hall this morning to denounce McFadden’s legislation, which first surfaced at Council’s Public Safety Committee meeting last week. McFadden chairs that committee.

McFadden’s legislation would create a new section of City Code to prohibit loitering in defined areas, chosen by the police chief, for the purpose of selling drugs. McFadden said that he crafted the legislation to agitate dealers out of complacency, and to give police an added tool to combat open-air drug markets. 

But White says that the proposal is unconstitutional and racist because “it will be used almost exclusively against people of color in our neighborhoods.” The legislation would give the police chief the right to declare martial law over sections of the city, he said.

The real solution to the drug problem is treatment and the alleviation of poverty, White said. McFadden’s proposal addresses neither of these things, he said.

White also promised to hold additional press conferences this week to talk about crime and other issues.

But contrary’s to White’s assertion, Council will almost certainly not vote on the legislation at tonight’s meeting. The proposal was held in committee after Mayor Tom Richards raised questions about the constitutionality of the legislation. McFadden could, conceivably, attempt to pull the legislation out of committee for a vote. But at least a couple of Council members also seemed troubled by the proposal, so it’s by no means certain that McFadden would be successful.

And McFadden himself seems to consider the legislation as just a starting point for discussion, and is not insisting on its immediate passage.

City Council meets today at 7:30 p.m. in Council chambers at City Hall, 30 Church Street. A public forum before the meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.