Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s curfew plan that further restricts how late young people can be out in Chicago was approved by a City Council committee Friday despite wide-ranging concerns from council members about how effective the provisions would be. to keep children safe.
The mayor proposed expanding the curfew to 10 p.m. from 11 p.m. to all weekdays following the fatal shooting of a teenager at The Bean in Millennium Park, but the idea has drawn scrutiny from critics and councilors who say the proposal is tough on crime. reiterates laws on the books that are no longer enforced by the Chicago police.
Still, the council’s public safety committee approved the measure. 14-3, sending the ordinance to the full City Council for final consideration next week. Aldos. Raymond Lopez, 15, who said he will run for mayor next year, Matthew Martin, 47, and Roderick Sawyer, 6, voted no. The hearing comes on the heels of the mayor signing an executive order with the same curfew changes, as well as a separate order that Lightfoot placed on unaccompanied minors allowed into Millennium Park on weekend nights. .
In discussions leading up to the vote, councilors from across the political spectrum expressed reservations about the usefulness of extending the curfew by one hour for Friday and Saturday nights, among other adjustments. But finally, the majority of the members decided that the amendment was necessary.
On the night of May 14, 16-year-old Seandell Holliday was shot near The Bean, allegedly by a 17-year-old. Chicago police said the shooting occurred during an altercation at a time when large groups of youths had gathered in a downtown park in a scene that turned chaotic.
“If the center could be a safe haven for young people, wouldn’t that be great?” Ald asked. Michele Smith, 43, which includes the Old Town and Lincoln Park neighborhoods. “But it’s not because, for whatever reason, people have decided to bring their feuds to our city.”
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If the measure is approved by the full council, Lightfoot’s changes to the executive order creating a 10 pm curfew for minors every day of the week will be permanent unless the council later changes them. That order was declared an “emergency,” the scope of which is decided solely by the mayor, the city’s Legal Department said during Friday’s hearing.
The current curfew establishes a 10 pm curfew on weekdays and an 11 pm curfew on weekends, both of which apply to people ages 12 to 16. Lightfoot’s executive order and proposed amendment to the ordinance would make the curfew apply to 17-year-olds as well. .
For children under 12, the current curfew is 8:30 pm on weekdays and 9:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and the ordinance introduced on Friday does not change that.
Issues with the pending curfew change ranged from more conservative councilmembers clamoring for more punishment to progressive members saying the new curfew potentially targets youth of color. Others said they found the tactic impractical to quell large crowds or reduce violence.
Lopez, a frequent critic of Lightfoot, said he was concerned the policy was no longer in effect because he found the 364 curfew violations recorded by Chicago police last year to be few.
“When we talk about having a tool in the toolbox…we don’t use this tool, do we?” Lopez said. “Having a tool and using a tool are two different things.”
As of this week, there have been 98 documented curfew violations by Chicago police in 2022, Lt. Michael Kapustianyk said. In 2020, that number was 635. In 2019, the number was 1,804, and in 2018 the number of issued curfew violations was 2,453.
Kapustianyk emphasized that the Police Department tries to use the curfew to “engage” minors instead of punishing them. Children who violate curfew are not arrested or charged, but are held in custody until a parent, guardian, or “responsible adult” can pick them up.
“We don’t enforce the ordinance other than to return them home and take custody,” Kapustianyk said. “We do not enforce the ordinance in a way that is punitive to the minor.”
Ald. Emma Mitts, 37, said it seemed unrealistic for police to round up large crowds of children if they disobeyed the ordinance. She still voted for the ordinance, but not before noting that Chicago teens have been gathering outside for years and deserve more investment in the neighborhood.
“I think there should be a deeper conversation about what we’re really doing here and not just putting a Band-Aid on the wound,” Mitts said.
Ald. Anthony Napolitano, 41, also covered his support, complaining that the city isn’t really punishing parents beyond sending them to an administrative hearing if their child is repeatedly caught past curfew. .
At the other end of the political spectrum, Ald. Andre Vasquez Jr., 40, shared what he said was his experience when police told him to get out of Grant Park and Navy Pier “every weekend” while he let white kids stay .
Vasquez, who is not a member of the public safety committee, said he worries the pattern will repeat itself as the curfew is extended, calling the mayor’s review “an ill-thought-out reactive news article disguised as legislation.”
“No kid is going to say, ‘Oh, thanks for stopping me officer. It’s 10:02. But I’m just walking home with friends,’” Vasquez said. “It’s going to lead to a situation that will then potentially be misunderstood by both parties. Right? If the city operated with common sense, we wouldn’t pay hundreds of millions of dollars in police settlements.”