Ignoring Opposition, City Passes Curfew, By Nicholas Shankin 
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Ignoring Opposition, City Passes Curfew, By Nicholas Shankin

Ignoring Opposition, City Passes Curfew, By Nicholas Shankin

By: James Babb

By Nicholas Shankin

Despite the double-dose of tremendous public outcry in devoted opposition to the unjust and unconstitutional Philadelphia curfew’s passing into permanent city law, City Council members voted on October 27, 2011 to enact the bill.

The law, which violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitutional Bill of Rights, requires that any minor (under the age of 18, specifically) caught wandering the streets past 10:00 PM or “downtown” whatsoever past 9:00 PM be taken into custody. Their parents will be promptly notified, and potential fines of $300-$500 could be issued. In the event that a parent cannot be immediately contacted, the Department of Human Services is contacted to begin conducting an investigation as to whether or not the child should be removed from the household.

Many citizens feel that the curfew is unjust, unnecessary, and potentially ineffective. As demonstrated in prior attempts by New York City, Compton, Detroit, and Boston (other cities that have experimented with implementing a curfew), the policy has not worked to prevent crime. Citizens opposed to the law argue that the curfew’s arrests might be racially-motivated, similar to the city’s stop-and-frisk policy (which also violates the Fourth Amendment by allowing police to search pedestrians at will and without a warrant) as well as the national war on drugs. For instance, in New York City, 89% of the 500,000 incidents of vehicular and pedestrian searches conducted in the year 2006 were non-white, despite the startling statistic that whites were 70% more likely to be carrying a concealed weapon. Still more disturbing is the reality that at the dawn of the 1990s, the U.S. had more black males under control of the justice system than in college. Certainly, the curfew’s enforcement will continue in this trend.

On October 20th, when the bill was initially brought to the table of the City Hall Council for vote, there was an immense outcry from the public opposing the curfew. The story made the front page and was the nightly headline of area news stations, and the outspoken rejection of the law managed to stall its passing for another week. It seemed the battle had been won"even the media was covering the citizens’ outrage against the Draconian policy. And yet, in a brazen display of tyrannical oppression, the council voted by a vast majority in favor of the legislation.

Perhaps the most important question raised by this set of circumstances is, “Who exactly was the Council representing and speaking on behalf of when they voted to pass the curfew law?” They certainly were not acting for the citizens of Philadelphia, who were more vocal about their regards for this issue than perhaps any in recent past. Yet, in the post-9/11 era, this is an unfortunate trend among politicians. It’s time the American people address the pressing issue that their politicians no longer work for them, and that the Constitution has been disregarded as “just a piece of paper” (the actual remark of one politician). Their very freedom and well-being depends on it.

Until that day, local activists will continue to press on against the curfew, conducting local protests and stirring up community awareness of this injustice. For what else are they to do in a political system that does not work in their favor, but encourage the public to take the matter into its own hands

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