Detroit council to weigh less restrictive curfew plan

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The City Council is set to receive a retooled — and less restrictive — curfew proposal for Detroit’s upcoming River Days festivities and annual fireworks.

The revised emergency ordinance is expected to go before the council on its new business agenda Tuesday and comes after the panel held a privileged session with law enforcement and legal staff over the terms of a separate plan introduced last week.

The initial request asked the council members to approve a four-day curfew for unaccompanied minors that would run from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. on June 19-22.

The request was made by Detroit’s Police Department and met criticism from civil liberties advocates and several council members who claimed that the proposal was too restrictive and had “racial overtones.”

The latest ordinance is more lenient, suggesting a curfew during River Days from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. that’s limited to specific areas bounded by the Detroit River.

The boundaries, according to the proposal, include Third Street, the Lodge Freeway, the Fisher Freeway, the extension of the Fisher Freeway easterly to Gratiot Avenue, Vernor Highway, Chene Street, Atwater Street and Chene Park.

The 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. citywide curfew would only apply during the fireworks display on June 22.

A public hearing on the emergency ordinance request is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday.

The council could vote on the request, which may be additionally amended, at its June 16 meeting.

The emergency ordinance also has more exceptions than prior years. Among them, minors would be permitted on the sidewalks in front of their homes and to run errands for parents, with written permission.

In a statement released Saturday, Detroit Police Department said it’s committed to making sure the annual fireworks display and festival “are safe and enjoyable for all families.”

“To that end, after productive consultation with City Council Members, Police Department and Law Department, the City Council will be asked to approve a revised curfew ordinance for unaccompanied minors under 18 years of age,” a statement from the department reads.

Detroit Police have noted that during the day and evening of past fireworks, “there have been numerous incidents of harassment, nuisance, vandalism and violence,” in some cases committed by unsupervised minors, at viewing, parking and public places.

Council members, including President Brenda Jones, raised issue with the initial four-day curfew plan. Some police officers, she’s said, have complained to her that the move is “a little racial,” and appeared to target African-Americans. She also has noted many other events don’t face such strict requirements.

Youngsters not accompanied by a parent or guardian during curfew hours could be detained and their parents ticketed. Nearly 150 juveniles were detained during last year’s fireworks. Police said 91 boys and 55 girls ages 17 and younger were taken into custody and their parents were issued a citation for $50.

The council adopted a one-day 6 p.m. curfew last year. Separately, the city has a year-round curfew for minors on the books that runs from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.