Chicago City Council Narrowly Passes Controversial Curfew Extension

Chicago City Hall
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Courtesy of Justin Connor

Despite protests from alderpeople, activists, and youth who will be affected by the change, Chicago’s city council passed a controversial measure pushing curfew for teens under 18 from 11 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday. The measure was passed in a close vote; with 30 in support and 19 against.

At the end of a month that saw many frightening instances of gun violence including a mass shooting blocks away from The Magnificent Mile shopping district and the shooting death of a 16-year-old boy at the footsteps of Millenium Park’s ‘Bean’ tourist attraction sculpture, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office added gated entrances to the city’s parks downtown and proposed dropping the current curfew for teenagers an hour, barring unsupervised minors from entering parks downtown.

Youth and activists gathered together downtown to stage a ‘Die In’ demonstration in protest of the curfew and asked those in the city government to provide more funding for violence prevention programs and positive activities for teenagers instead. Protestors felt the new curfew would be used to target youth of color disproportionately and would not be effective in curbing the rising gun violence affecting the city’s young people. Several alderpeople voiced the same concerns before voting Wednesday.

Courtesy of Justin Connor

Alderwoman Maria Hadden of the north side’s 49th ward argued the provision in the measure stating teenagers who attended ticketed events unsupervised would not be punished by the new curfew. Ticketed events like Lollapalooza tend to attract a more affluent white population, which Hadden argued would price out black and brown youth from enjoying the same spaces because they can’t pay to attend such events. It was also noted the new curfew would increase interactions between youth and the Chicago Police Department leading to more arrests and potential incidents of police brutality.

Alderman Michael Rodriguez of the 22nd Ward, covering the South Lawndale community, asked colleagues to vote against the increased curfew citing the measure was not backed by any evidence and would not be effective. He pointed out that the shooting at the Bean in which a teen was killed occurred around 7 p.m., three hours before the new curfew would take place. The mass shooting near The Magnificent Mile involved adults who would not be subject to the curfew.

Rodriguez went on to tell his fellow council members “We need to be focused on bringing resources to the neighborhoods that need them and continue funding violence prevention programs.” Alderman Jeanette Taylor of the 20th Ward echoed his statements adding “Young people wouldn’t be downtown if their communities were invested in.” Other alderpeople shared the sentiment that youth from disinvested communities were traveling to the downtown area due to a lack of safe and constructive activities available to them in their own neighborhoods.

Alderwoman Rossana Sanchez Rodriguez of the 33rd Ward asked her fellow council members to consider that many of the youth were homeless, had no parents at all, or lacked responsible adults in their lives, as she’d experienced this first-hand when she worked in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. Alderwoman Sanchez Rodriguez asked her colleagues if the new curfew would be beneficial to these youth and suggested those types of problems needed to be addressed in order to improve the gun violence issue.

The curfew extension still passed, however, and time will tell how effective the measure will be at combating gun violence involving the city’s youth.

Written by Justin Connor

Images Courtesy of Justin Connor


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