Last August, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter declared an emergency and imposed a “temporary curfew” that sweeps minors from Center City and University City after 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
The curfew was scheduled to end after Labor Day but it has been extended indefinitely. Later today, City Council is expected to expand did not vote on Bill No. 110633. The legislation would amend the decades-old law and make it a crime for a minor to be in any “public place” after curfew hours.
Although facially race-neutral, the curfew disproportionately impacts black youth. The People’s Law School at Occupy Philly wrote that this law:
Makes it illegal for law-abiding adults to escort non-custodial minors and family members (i.e. nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers) in Philadelphia – this includes all “publicly accessible” areas like the movie theater, theater, stores, restaurants, etc.
Targets black youth and aims to prohibit their movement within richer neighborhoods.
Nijmie Zakkiyyah Dzurinko, executive director of the Philadelphia Student Union, told the Philadelphia Tribune:
Unfortunately, many of the students impacted by the curfew enforcement areas are working part-time jobs downtown, where they are unable to navigate home in sufficient time. The students enjoy being downtown as much as tourists. Not all large or small groups of students lead to violence.
Individuals who break the law should be dealt with on an individual basis. Collective punishment targeting a small geographic area is not going to solve the root issue.
If you are concerned about the criminalization of black youth, contact your Council member and make some noise.
UPDATE: City Council tabled the bill; no vote was taken. Council may pass or amend the bill at its next meeting (Oct. 27).
Occupy Philadelphia showed black youth some love.
Occupiers stepped up to the mic and spoke truth to power. Khadijah Costley White described the bill as a “backdoor approach to enforcing a widespread segregation and caging of Philadelphia’s youth, and believe it echoes the Black codes and slave codes of America’s history.”
To get involved, please join the Facebook group, Philadelphia Anti-Curfew Action Committee.