Don’t Let Curfew Ordinance Criminalize Kids

June 06, 2015

Michael Reynolds is a 17-year-old Detroiter, a recent graduate of Detroit Loyola High School and an impending freshman at Western Michigan University.

Later this month, if the Detroit City Council passes a proposed ordinance for a four-day curfew in Detroit, Michael could also be branded a criminal by police for something simple as picking up his grandmother’s prescription from the pharmacy or playing pickup basketball with friends.

Under an unprecedented citywide curfew being considered by City Council, everyone age 17 and under in the city of Detroit must be in at home between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. on June 19 through June 22. The only exceptions are if the minors are accompanied by an adult; have a letter from a parent or guardian; or can prove they are coming from a function related to school, religion or organized sports programs.

Otherwise, every underage youth in Detroit will be expected to be a prisoner in his or her home for four days that the rest of the city will be celebrating freedom.

The curfew—which the Council will consider and take public comment on at its meeting on Wednesday, June 10—would be imposed just as Detroit will be sponsoring its River Days events and its internationally renown Independence Day fireworks display.

It’s the cruelest irony that, as the rest of the region will be enjoy and extoling our basic constitutional freedoms, our city government would be denying innocent kids like Michael their fundamental First Amendment right to travel intrastate. And their parents would have the government infringing on their right to determine where their children visit.

Moreover, the ordinance would blanket the entire city for those four days. Whereas in the past, curfews have lasted on day and been confined to the downtown areas, the ordinance would allow police to arrest minors in neighbors nowhere near downtown Detroit. As foul as previous curfews were—and yes, we still believe they were unconstitutional—this ordinance would be far more odious and insulting.

It’s also unnecessary. Detroit officials haven’t given any compelling justification for such a drastic proposal. Detroit hasn’t experienced the upheaval that rocked cities like Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo. And Detroit has hosted countless big events, from car races to concerts to conventions, without ever before having to imprison its children in their homes for 12-hour stretches over four days.

If we value our freedom, we certainly shouldn’t start now.

That’s why we’re urging people to stand with young people like Michael Reynolds and encourage the Detroit City Council to vote NO on the proposal for this draconian, unconstitutional curfew ordinance.

Click here to make your voice heard.

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