The Detroit City Council has rejected efforts to impose a four-day youth curfew preceding the city’s fireworks festival.
The annual fireworks are coming up this Monday, and there’s usually a curfew. This year, Detroit Police had asked to expand it to the three Detroit Riverdays preceding the fireworks.
The proposal drew some heated criticism at a public hearing Tuesday.
The Michigan ACLU’s Michael Steinberg said everyone understands safety concerns surrounding the fireworks. “But there’s a right way and a wrong way to accomplish safety in a constitutional democracy," he said. “It is ironic that on the days that we choose to celebrate the freedoms that make this country great, we’re going to remove freedoms for a large percentage of our youth.”
Council President Brenda Jones agreed. “I do support the police, but I do not support this,” she told Detroit Police Chief James Craig. “It imposes too much on our city’s youth.”
Craig said the department tried to make the curfew as “narrowly-tailored” as possible, and was working with community groups to make sure children are supervised and minimize the effect on kids. Also, “Children that are detained for curfew violation will not be cited,” Craig said.” We want the focus to be on the parents.”
But some Council members worried that it looked like the city was “criminalizing youth.” They also suggested there’s not enough data to suggest youth are the driving factor behind disorderly incidents at the fireworks, and what will happen to families who can’t pay the fine.
Ultimately the Council voted down the four-day curfew, but approved a more limited one for the night of the fireworks. It applies, with some limited exceptions, to unsupervised children under age 18 within the city’s downtown area.