Lori Lightfoot

A New Millennium Park Curfew for Unaccompanied Minors Is Now In Effect. How Will it Be Enforced?

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Beginning Thursday at 6 p.m., one of Chicago's most iconic gathering places will be off limits unaccompanied minors as a new and controversial curfew for young people goes into effect.

According to Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office, no unaccompanied minors will be allowed in Millennium Park after 6 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.

Anyone under the age of 18 is "welcome at the Park during the evening hours as long as they are accompanied by at least one responsible adult, "a press release from Lightfoot's office says.

The move comes after a an altercation in the park Saturday night around 7:30 p.m. ended with the fatal shooting of  16-year-old Seandell Holliday near "The Bean."

17-year-old Marion Richardson is facing charges of second-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm in connection with Holliday’s death. Richardson is being charged as an adult in the case.

Lightfoot defended her decision during a press conference earlier this week, saying, "We are in a crisis. We have to step up. That’s what leadership does and that’s what I have done."

But the curfew has a week-long debate over who should be allowed in Millennium Park and why.

"Curfews have not ever been shown to reduce crime," said Alexandra Block, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois said in an interview with NBC 5. "They haven’t ever been shown to reduce violence."

Earlier this week, the ACLU of Illinois released a statement saying "the promise of strict enforcement will result in unnecessary stop and arrests and further strain relations between CPD and young people of color."

Lamar Johnson, Violence Prevention Coordinator at St. Sabina expressed similar concerns.

"If they cannot come to Millennium Park at a certain time well where can they go?" Johnson said. "I don’t think the mayor and the city really thought this through."

Several groups have pushed for more clarity around the curfew rules and how enforcement will work. Here's what we know so far.

Millennium Park Curfew Details

When the curfew is in effect: Thursdays through Sundays, beginning at 6 p.m.

Who the curfew applies to: "All unaccompanied minors" under the age of 18, whether they are visitors or residents.

Anyone under the age of 18 is "welcome at the Park during the evening hours as long as they are accompanied by at least one responsible adult," a press release from Lightfoot's office says.

How the curfew will be enforced: According to a press release from Lightfoot's office, the new curfew for unaccompanied minors at Millennium Park "will be strictly enforced and violations will be dealt with swiftly."

"I am also calling upon the Chicago Police Department," the release continued, "to work with our federal partners to accelerate gun traces for all firearms found in the hands of minors and to swiftly bring criminal charges against any adult who has provided a firearm to a person under the age of 18."

During a press conference Monday discussing the new rule, Lightfoot said" the Chicago Police will exhaust all other efforts before they take law enforcement actions to make sure that young people are safe."

"No, we don't want to arrest children," Lightfoot said. "If we have to because they're breaking the law, we will. But what we've seen in other areas of the city, when issues have arisen, is our officers talk to the young people, educate them about what the rules are and in most instances, the young people disperse without any incident. That's what we're hoping will happen."

In an interview with NBC 5's Mary Ann Ahern, Light said private security will be first in line to enforce the new restrictions at Millennium Park.

“They’re going to be the folks on the front line,” she said. “Obviously, there are officers that are already assigned to the 1st and 18th districts if there is a need for their services (as well).”

The ACLU of Illinois says it sent a letter to the Mayor's office Wednesday pushing for more clarity.

"There’s just a lot of vagueness about how is it going to be enforced, how do officers determine how old someone is. What does it mean that children have to be accompanied by a 'responsible adult,'" Block said.

Chicago's Citywide Curfew for Teens 16 and Under

In addition to the new Millennium Park curfew, Lightfoot on Monday said that since 1992, a citywide, 11 p.m. weekend curfew for teens 16-years-old and under has been in place.

That curfew will now start at 10 p.m. and applies to weekdays in addition to weekends, according to an executive order signed by the Mayor.

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