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Will there be a curfew for kids in downtown Chicago? Mayor weighs in

It wouldn't mark the first curfew to be implemented in Chicago

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Will there be a curfew for unaccompanied kids in downtown Chicago?

It's a topic sparking much debate in the city after area aldermen pitched the idea following a recent crime involving juveniles.

On Friday, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson's office released a statement on the idea, saying his administration continues to meet with stakeholders "around safety in the Loop and Millennium Park, and will provide updates to curfew policies as they become available."

"Our utmost priority remains safety in the Central Business District and all throughout the City of Chicago," the statement read.

Multiple Chicago City Council members representing the downtown area called for an 8 p.m. curfew for unaccompanied minors in the Central Business District, which would include all of the city's Streeterville neighborhood.

Ald. Brian Hopkins said in a letter to his residents, "The earlier curfew seeks to apply to any minor, regardless of activity, from being in the Central Business District without the supervision of an adult.

"If enacted by the full City Council, this curfew will allow the Chicago Police Department to apprehend and cite those who are in violation," the letter read. "I do not believe every minor present during these recent gatherings have ill intentions, but it is painfully clear that a few agitators and ring leaders have instigated violent and chaotic actions time and time again and this activity cannot be tolerated."

Fellow downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly of the city's 42nd Ward agreed.

"I fully support Ald. Hopkins' curfew proposal and am also calling for a fixed police post of officers at Illinois and New Street, directly across from the AMC River East... all summer."

Chicago's top cop, Supt. Larry Snelling, also expressed support for a potential curfew.

“We know there are young people who want to enjoy downtown. We want them to be able to do that, but want them to do it safely," he said. “I do believe in a curfew, I do believe that very young people should not be out at all hours of the night unaccompanied."

If enacted by the full City Council, the curfew would allow officers to arrest or ticket those in violation. Snelling said he cannot yet comment on enforcement without knowing more details and nuances to the potential curfew.

"I'm willing to take a look at that just to ensure our youth are safe and that our citizens are safer [and] that we don’t have youth going down in groups and they get in fights and there are attacks on other people," he said. "So whatever we can do to stop those things from happening in a way that doesn’t intrude on peoples' rights, we want to do."

Previously Johnson noted concerns over the idea of a curfew.

"We have to make sure we’re keeping people safe, but we also have to make sure we're not placing restrictions that ultimately lead to a deeper level of frustration," he said.

Curfews have previously been enacted by Chicago mayors, with former mayors Rahm Emanuel and Lori Lightfoot enacting them in 2014 and 2022, respectively.

Last year, curfews were in place, among other measures, at city beaches and at Millennium Park following multiple incidents, including so-called "teen takeovers."

Meanwhile, places like the Water Tower Place mall also require those 17 and under to be accompanied by an adult after 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

While the fate of a larger curfew remains unclear, Hopkins said increased patrols will be in place in the Streeterville neighborhood.

The debate follows an attack last week on a couple by a group of teenagers in the city's Streeterville neighborhood.

The couple were on a date Friday night when they were surrounded by a group of teens who began beating them about 9 p.m. near Grand Avenue and McClurg Court, Chicago police said.

Police said the man, 40, was hit several times in the head by a 14-year-old boy, and the woman, who officials said was pregnant, had her hair pulled out by a 17-year-old girl.

Both teens were arrested and charged with battery, a misdemeanor.

"We are off to a bad start," Hopkins said. "We had a recent incident in Streeterville where a pregnant woman was attacked, unprovoked. We had a fatal shooting just a couple of months ago on Roosevelt and Clark in front of one of the theaters there."

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