Mayor Lori Lightfoot is asking alderpeople to change an ordinance to expand the curfew for teens to start at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
This in addition to a new rule requiring minors visiting Millennium Park to be accompanied by a “responsible adult” after 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. That rule was announced after the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Seandell Holliday in the heart of the tourist-favorite park.
The Rev. Corey Brooks of Project H.O.O.D is skeptical about whether a curfew will have an effect on the rate of violence.
“You still have all these hours that young people are able to do the things they normally do,” said Brooks. “I do understand we have to do something. These young people, they do need outlets, they do need places to go. But it’s very disheartening that our young people don’t have places to go.”
Essence-Jade Gatheright, a youth organizer with Chicago Freedom School, said that a curfew would do nothing to change the underlying causes of violence.
“It doesn’t address what the youth need. When you look at schools, mental health centers, jobs, community centers, none of that is being funded in Black and brown communities,” Gatheright said. “So telling them to go home early, sending them back to these underfunded communities, that does nothing to curb any of the violence.”
Increased curfew enforcement could also lead to young people becoming entangled in the legal system, said Brooks.
“I am concerned it’s going to lead to more young people being arrested, therefore putting things on their record, therefore eventually not allowing them to get the jobs they’re going to need, the schools they’re going to go to,” he said. “I think there are other things we can do to curb the violence other than putting a curfew in place, even though I understand the need because things are so bad.”
Gatheright also said the policies being considered, particularly the “responsible adult” provision, are not adequately defined or even publicized.
“I can say, even myself, being a young person, [the curfew] wasn’t a thing we were mindful of at all. I learned how to skateboard last summer, it was like 10 of me and my friends, at Grant Park late at night, and so those are things we enjoy, it builds community, and we felt safe down there,” Gatheright said. “I think it is extremely vague – that lack of clarity feels intentional, because when you look at youth trying to maneuver these new policies, if I’m 16 hanging out with my 18-year-old friend– are they legally an adult? Who’s to say they are responsible? How are you gauging the responsibility?”