by Sam Hieb
And I’m not sure what that’s saying considering the fact that ‘only’ six people were arrested during last night’s July 4th celebrations, which was first night of the downtown teen curfew hastily passed by the City Council on Wednesday. Police Chief Ken Miller added officers “also quelled multiple fights in Center City Park and along Elm Street.” Police also reported six curfew violations, and all violators were released to their parents.
No matter the logistics, one can’t help but see the irony behind the fact that last Saturday’s incident —in which 11 people were arrested and a gun was allegedly fired—- started brewing during the city’s Summer Night Lights program, which –you guessed it —is set up to give teens something to do so they don’t brawl. GPD says the showing of “The Amazing Spider Man” had “absolutely no correlation” to the incident, but what are they supposed to say?
Bigger question is whether the curfew should be city-wide—-a motion by council member Nancy Vaughan failed 6-3 before the downtown curfew passed on an 8-1 vote. But after reading the comments from one kid, you’d think so:
Bria Johnson, a 15-year-old student at the Middle College at Bennett, first found out about the fights — and the curfew — through Instagram.
Johnson sat in City Center Park on Thursday evening wearing red, white and blue and feeling frustrated because she knew her night would end earlier than she would like.
“I’m telling you, today people are coming here ready to fight,” Johnson said. “They’re going to happen when the lights go down, and if it’s not here, it’s going to be somewhere else.”
I’m not unsympathetic to the council’s attempt to “do something,” though of all people I find myself agreeing with Dianne Bellamy-Small –the lone vote against the curfew —-that you can’t legislate parenting. Think about this along with the Grimsley High School prostitution incident (charges were dropped earlier this week) and you have to believe this a problem that a curfew won’t solve.