Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fireworks Curfew Violates the Rights of Young People in Detroit

Posted on Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Says the ACLU of Michigan. We here at Metro Times agree. The Detroit City Council passed an "emergency" ordinance on June 3rd creating a 6 p.m. curfew for those under the age of 18 and unaccompanied by a parent. It was enacted specifically for the annual Independence Day fireworks display Monday on the Detroit River. So much for celebrating freedom. The curfew criminalizes youth for nothing more than being under the age of 18. From the ACLU-Mich. Press Release:
“The City is basically telling the young people of Detroit that they must be placed on lockdown to make people from outside Detroit feel safe when they go downtown to watch the fireworks,” said Michael Reynolds, a 16-year-old Detroit resident and President of the organization Youth Power Movement. “We are not criminals. Yet, even if our parents give us permission, the curfew prevents us from visiting friends, attending youth group meetings, playing sports in the park and even going to church.”
According to the press release:
In 2012 and 2013, hundreds of young people engaged in innocent activity were rounded up on buses and issued criminal citations under identical fireworks curfew ordinances. Additionally, hundreds of parents were issued citations because their children violated the curfew.
The ACLU-Mich. also
asserts that the broad curfew violates minors’ rights to equal protection, to travel, and to engage in acts protected by the First Amendment such as to associate with others, attend church and engage in political activity [and] asserts that the curfew violates the due process rights of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing of their children. 
The ACLU of Michigan "strongly urges Detroit Mayor Michael Duggan, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Police Chief James Craig to refrain from enforcing the curfew on Monday night because the ordinance is unconstitutional." Metro Times agrees. There are more important laws to enforce in this town, and true crimes committed that will need the resources otherwise diverted to criminalize (and ultimately harm) young people and their families.    

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