May 17, 2022 - News

Early curfews are back

Mayor of Chicago with police
Mayor Lori Lightfoot before the start of the Chicago Police Department's graduation at Navy Pier. Photo: Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a citywide 10pm weekend curfew for unaccompanied minors just a day after instituting a 6pm weekend minors curfew at Millennium Park.

Why it matters: After a teen was fatally shot in the park Saturday, the mayor is using city curfews to try to curb mass gatherings and violent crime.

Context: Curfews and unaccompanied-minor bans aren't new to downtown.

  • The regular weekend curfew now moves from 11pm to 10pm citywide.
  • Both Navy Pier and Water Tower have unaccompanied-minor bans.
  • Taste of Chicago famously changed its hours in 2011 in an effort to curb large teenage crowds and downtown violence.

Details: The ban at Millennium Park includes all summer festivals, including the Millennium Park Summer Music Series.

What they're saying: "We need to make sure our young people understand and respect basic community norms, respect for themselves, respect for each other," Lightfoot said at a press conference yesterday.

  • "We don't want to arrest children. If we have to because they’re breaking the law, we will."

The other side: "The mayor's announcement suggests that our city's showcase park should not be available for all residents of Chicago," the ACLU of Illinois said in a statement.

  • "The promise of strict enforcement will result in unnecessary stops and arrests and further strain relations between CPD and young people of color."

Driving the news: The high-profile downtown crimes are happening as the mayor gears up for campaign season, and her critics are out in force.

  • "This administration is completely out of ideas," Ald. Brian Hopkins told CBS 2.
  • "What we are witnessing is the systematic destruction of Chicago's economic heart as the mayor and her CPD leadership team have no strategy for addressing escalating crime and lawlessness," potential mayoral candidate Paul Vallas wrote on Facebook.
  • "The mayor needs to be doing more to address violence in schools, mental health needs and entrenched disinvestment, instead of knee-jerk curfews and bans on the use of public spaces," the Chicago Teachers Union said in a statement Monday.

💭 Justin's thought bubble: Past curfews and bans didn't stop downtown gatherings; they just relocated them.

  • Chicago continues to tell teenagers where they can't go. Maybe it's time to tell them where they can.
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