CHICAGO — As Mayor Lori Lightfoot continues to defend her new curfew for teens at Millennium Park, civil liberties groups are demanding more specifics from the city and police.
The mayor’s executive order on the citywide curfew for minors has been filed with the city clerk and is now in effect.
Beginning Thursday through Sunday, unaccompanied minors will not be allowed into Millennium Park after 6 p.m. Lightfoot also ordered the change in the citywide curfew for children from 11 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The looming question is how the Chicago Police Department will enforce the park’s new curfew. Lightfoot’s recent executive order directs the police superintendent to enforce immediately.
The executive order states police should use de-escalation and dispersal tools to educate minors about the curfew rules and get voluntary compliance. But if a child doesn’t comply, police are directed to take them into custody until a parent or guardian picks them up.
The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to the city’s corporation counsel asking for the legal basis for such changes and specifics on enforcement. The organization has concerns it could become a policy that encourages unconstitutional stops of young people and could result in racially biased policing.
“Large crowds have gathered across this city since time and memoriam and never once has the response been to bar people from a particular place at a particular time,” said Edwin Yohnka with ACLU of Illinois. “That simply hasn’t happened. So the idea that this becomes an emergency the police can’t handle, we just don’t understand.”
After the weekend violence, including the deadly shooting of a 16-year-old at the Bean, Lightfoot said that reasoning is education-based.
“It’s not to roll out the paddy wagons and lock up a bunch of young people – that accomplishes very little,” she said. “It may put down the immediate concern but it doesn’t help in the long term and frankly, it’s not teaching our young people the lessons that need to be taught.”
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“Millennium Park has become a gathering place but also a flashpoint,” Lightfoot added. “We can’t allow any public space to be turned into a space of chaos and violence.”
Read ACLU’s full statement:
We are disappointed that the City responded to our request earlier today for more information by issuing an executive order lacking in so many ways. To begin, the Mayor calls it an emergency that young people are gathering in Millennium Park – while crowds have gathered in many other parts of the City for years with no such designation. She suggests that a curfew will reduce crime, despite ample evidence (clearly articulated in this morning’s Chicago Sun-Times) that curfews do not reduce crime. Her fiat further changes the age of those subject to the City’s curfew ordinance (from 16 to 18) and would permit the indefinite detention of those caught in violation of her order until an eligible adult arrives. Finally, the order singles out as an exception ticketed events, suggesting that the curfew will target disadvantaged youth in our City who are unable to purchase a ticket to a costly event. Given the disproportionate application of the curfew restrictions after George Floyd’s murder, this is a real concern.
We asked the Mayor and City to explain how this ordinance would be implemented. This approach doesn’t solve a problem – it further damages relations between young people and the community. The Mayor is headed in the wrong direction and must abandon this path as soon as possible.