Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s announcements of a new 10 p.m. city curfew for minors and a 6 p.m. weekend curfew for unaccompanied children at Millennium Park has sparked intense reaction, with some officials and activists saying that the moves are short-sighted and will only hurt the relationship between kids and the city’s police force.
The announcement of a curfew at Millennium Park comes after a shooting left a 16-year-old boy dead during a large gathering on Saturday evening.
In response, Lightfoot announced that unaccompanied children under the age of 18 will not be allowed in Millennium Park after 6 p.m. from Thursday through Sunday.
“Young people are welcome downtown, but in the evening they must be accompanied by responsible adults,” she said.
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In addition, Lightfoot’s office announced that the city’s curfew for residents under the age of 16, currently set at 11 p.m., would be moved up to 10 p.m.
Both moves have set off a flurry of reaction from activists and public officials.
“The mayor must takes measures, but this is not the way to do it,” Enriquez Baltazar of the Little Village Community Council said.
Groups like the LVCC and even the American Civil Liberties Union have questioned the mayor’s plans on multiple fronts, including how the measure would be enforced and the impact that it would have on the city’s children.
“This is gonna stereotype every young person in downtown,” Baltazar said. “Especially our youth in Little Village who are going to work. There are jobs and activities downtown…and now they’re limited.”
“The mayor’s announcement suggests that our city’s showcase park should not be available for all residents of Chicago,” the ACLU’s Ed Yohnka said in a statement to WTTW. “Curfews and bans create group culpability for all young people – whether they are there to enjoy the sights and sounds of downtown or something else.”
During a community meeting on Monday, Ald. Brian Hopkins invited members of the public to discuss recent high-profile incidents in the downtown area
“I know we can’t live this way,” he said.
Over the weekend, there were 28 separate shooting incidents in Chicago, leaving 28 people hurt and at least five dead.
Hundreds of residents gathered at Moody Church’s Old Town campus on Monday to discuss recent high-profile incidents, including large groups at North Avenue Beach who caused several disturbances and led to multiple arrests after an “unpermitted gathering” at the North Side landmark.
Between that and Saturday’s shooting at Millennium Park, Hopkins says there is plenty of evidence that something needs to be done.
“We can see what happened during the course of events Saturday night downtown,” he said. “There are direct impacts on public safety.”
Hopkins is asking for additional pod cameras and license plate readers, with capabilities to determine whether a car is missing its license plates.