Anti-flash mob curfew to continue

Mayor Michael Nutter makes remarks during an interview with The Associated Press in Philadelphia. In bluntly calling out the Black community as part of his crackdown on violent flash mobs, Nutter finds himself the latest in a long line of African-American leaders to use a tough love approach in response to civic problems. — AP PHOTO/MATT ROURKE, FILE

Mayor Michael Nutter has announced the weekend curfew for minors is going to remain in effect for the foreseeable future, keeping unaccompanied minors off the streets of University City and Center City as a safeguard against violent flash mobs.

Parents and guardians who spoke with the Philadelphia Tribune said they support the mayor’s efforts and that if more parents would step up and enforce their own curfews, the city wouldn’t have had to step in to curb teen violence.

“My granddaughter is 13 years old and she can’t go most places unless her mother or I go with her. There are just too many crazy young people out there,” said Amanda Leatherberry. “Is Mayor Nutter punishing all to make sure a few get the message? Well, yes. But what else is he supposed to do? My granddaughter Kendra is being raised in a strict environment, and if she does go someplace she knows how to act. Kids 13 years old and younger shouldn’t be out after a certain time alone anyway. Those who want to break curfew are going to do it — they will and then the parents have to be held accountable. I also think it’s a positive thing to extend the recreation center hours, because there are a lot of latchkey kids out there.”

On Friday, Mayor Nutter announced that the Friday and Saturday 9 p.m. temporary curfew for minors in the targeted enforcement areas of Center City and University City would remain in effect. The announcement followed the beginning of the September school semester.

Nutter said that while minors are allowed to be on city streets with a legal guardian, minors that police officers caught breaking curfew would either be sent home, brought home or transported to a police station where their parents or guardians would be contacted. As a balance to the stricter curfew enforcement, the city would continue to extend the weekend hours at selected recreation centers.

“In August, our city’s law enforcement agencies, justice system, community partners and residents responded overwhelmingly to the call to keep our city free from random violent attacks,” Nutter said. “Under the temporary curfew, there were no further incidents. As we begin a new school year, it is important for our city’s students to remain safe, study hard and to adjust to their new schedules. Therefore, I am extending the 9 p.m. curfew for minors, which will help the police to respond to disturbances and will keep Philadelphians and visitors safe.”

Tanya Haig, who has three children ages 14, 11 and 8, said she thinks Nutter is correct and also expressed the sentiment that the problems of teens randomly attacking pedestrians is an issue that starts in the home.

“Kids are a mimic of us, and they will test the waters — so it’s up to responsible parents to train them how to behave,” she said. “I also think it’s a good idea that for those who won’t take responsibility for their children to be held accountable and hitting them in the pocket with fines will help them get the message. Because any child 13 years old or under, on a normal day, should be doing something productive. If they have too much idle time they will get into trouble, and that’s what I think we were seeing with these flash mobs. So having the recreation centers open later is a good plan, too, because establishments like movies and skating rinks shouldn’t admit minors after certain hours. But beyond what the mayor does, parents should know where their children are. Period.”

Last month Nutter directed his staff to review the current curfew laws to see how they could deal more effectively with the issues of youth activity and youth violence in evening hours. He said his intention is to develop proposals for an updated curfew law in cooperation with City Council.

Since the city began enforcing the curfew laws, there haven’t been any violent flash mob incidents.

The weekday curfew is 10:30 p.m. for minors 13 years old and older, 9 p.m. for minors 12 years old and under, and will remain unchanged. Also, fines for parents and legal guardians of children who break curfew will also continue. After receiving a first violation notice, parents can be fined up to $500 for successive violations.

The mayor said that notices and citations would be issued when the parent comes to collect their child from the police station. If parents do not collect their child within a reasonable time, the Philadelphia Police Department will contact the Department of Human Services to initiate an investigation.

“I look forward to working with City Council to develop legislation that meets the needs of public safety while ensuring that young Philadelphians can safely engage in evening activities,” Nutter said.

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