Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will seek City Council approval for the 10 p.m. weekend curfew for minors she announced after a teenager was fatally shot in Millennium Park on Saturday.
The mayor initially said she would issue an executive order imposing the curfew. She did so “under her emergency powers,” city legal department spokeswoman Kristen Cabanban said, but “she always intended to codify change and get the ‘full Council approval’.
The emergency ordinance took effect Tuesday when it was filed with the city clerk’s office, Cabanban said. The council’s public safety committee is due to vote on Friday on officially raising the 11 p.m. curfew, now on the books.
Lightfoot’s actions drew criticism from civil rights activists. ACLU attorney Alexandra Block said “the last-minute addition of this item to council’s agenda effectively recognizes that the mayor does not have the legal authority to change the law on the curfew by decree”.
“His attempt to seize power is wrong, as is his reliance on curfews to fight crime. Curfews will not reduce violence in our city,” Block said in a statement. “Once again, Mayor Lightfoot seems unwilling to do the hard work of building bridges between the community and the police, rather than using hastily cobbled-together measures that rely on failed tactics and disproved assumptions. “
Lightfoot’s curfew announcement on Monday followed the death of 16-year-old Seandell Holliday, of the Roseland neighborhood, who was shot dead near The Bean on Saturday night, allegedly by a 17-year-old. Police said the shooting occurred during an altercation at a time when large groups of young people had gathered in the downtown park in a scene that turned chaotic.
The curfew change came a day after the mayor said she was banning unaccompanied minors from Millennium Park after 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, starting this weekend.
“Anyone entering our public spaces should be able to enjoy them safely,” she said on Monday. “Young people are absolutely welcome in the city center but in the evening they must be accompanied by a responsible adult.”
Many young people are looking for a space “to relax” and are understandably tired of being indoors, Lightfoot said. But she lamented the big chaotic scene over the weekend where a teenager was shot dead and large crowds of teenagers flooded downtown, stopping traffic and jumping on vehicles.
In a bid to find alternative activities for young people when they are out of school, Lightfoot and First Lady Amy Eshleman announced on Wednesday the launch of the My CHI My Future mobile app, billed as a “resource designed to help Teens easily find out-of-school programs, events, resources, jobs and more.
Chicago’s curfew policy for minors, in place for three decades, contains several exceptions. Minors may go out after curfew, for example if they are accompanied or running an errand for a parent or guardian, attending an adult-supervised event sponsored by an official organization, standing on the sidewalk in front of their home or if it is an emergency. Minors are also exempt if they are exercising First Amendment rights, such as during a protest.
Lightfoot’s executive order added an additional caveat for paid or sponsored events, noting that curfew hours would not apply to minors hoping to attend Lollapalooza or other music festivals that extend into late in the evening. A minor would need a ticket stub, wristband, or other proof that they are allowed to attend the event for the exception to be valid.
The executive order declared the increase in crimes committed by minors an “emergency” and ordered Chicago police to “immediately increase enforcement” of the curfew. This includes tactics ranging from voluntary compliance to the detention of minors until the arrival of an adult “in the care or custody of an attorney”.
Chicago already has a curfew law of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday nights for minors ages 12 to 16. For young children, the current curfew is 8:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Lightfoot’s executive order moving the Friday and Saturday curfew to 10 p.m. defines minors as anyone under the age of 18. It was not immediately clear whether the proposed order change would apply to 17-year-olds.