LAWRENCE, Kan. — The Lawrence City Commission passed an ordinance Thursday to change public nuisance laws after video circulated online of a massive house party near the KU campus.
The ordinance makes it a municipal offense to maintain or permit a public nuisance. Maintaining a public nuisance is defined as “knowingly causing or permitting a condition to exist which injures or endangers the public health, safety or welfare.”
There’s currently an emergency order in effect in Lawrence that bans mass gatherings of 45 people or more.
“Going to these parties and not wearing masks and doing whatever they can just to have a good time, that’s not what college is about you are here for something of a bigger purpose,” KU senior Tommy Watson said.
The language allows the Lawrence Police Department to enforce the ordinance and issue citations. The city said it’s working on a memorandum of understanding to have them prosecuted in Douglas County District Court as misdemeanors punishable by up to one month in jail and a fine of up to $500.
“Something definitely needs to be done if people aren’t going to follow orders. I don’t know about jail time that seems a little harsh.” KU student Marissa Clynes said.
“It’s definitely a steep penalty, but there’s not a lot else they can do to battle what’s going on,” KU student Joey Waite said.
The ordinance sunsets automatically at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2021.
The city is asking people to call the police non-emergency number if they spot a violator.
The University of Kansas has set up an “unmasked” website, asking students to submit photos and names of people not following COVID-19 protocols.