The Reno City Council today unanimously voted to proceed with an ordinance banning whips on city property. Council members heard from public commenters and Reno police about the rise of whip cracking in recent years downtown and near the Truckee River.
Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve said one whip cracker caused somebody to crash on their bike, and public commenters said whip cracking has been a nuisance, viewed as threatening and has triggered fear.
“I find it incredibly offensive,” she said.
Council member Neoma Jardon agreed.
“There is a lot of these complaints,” she said.
The ACLU of Nevada opposed the measure.
The ACLU’s Holly Welborn called the city’s proposed whip ban “half-baked at best. This proposal targets unsheltered people in possession of a whip.”
Welborn said such a ban would punish those who can least afford it.
“The unsheltered population is overpoliced, lacks trust in law enforcement, and this ordinance threatens any efforts to build that trust,” she said.
A public commenter said the council should focus efforts on an ordinance for the homeless to protect them from police.
Jessica Castro said the unsheltered should not have to endure more harassment from the Reno Police Department.
“Will or skill,” she said. “I know you all have skills to listen to your constituents, because I see the whip ordinance coming into play now. It’s the will you lack. You don’t care about our unhoused.
“I’m out there everyday, and I can tell you I’ve never once been in fear of a whip, or of a homeless person, but I can tell you when I’m out there by myself I fear your officers,” she added. “Where is my ordinance? What’s in place to protect from the cops out there that are harassing me on a constant basis?”
Council member Naomi Duerr spoke in favor of the ordinance.
“I really think things are fine until you start interfering with other people’s quiet enjoyment of the city–that’s where I think it crosses the line,” she said.
The ordinance will be presented at future council meetings for full approval.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR.