Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will seek City Council approval for the 10 p.m. weekend curfew for minors that she announced after a teenager was shot and killed at Millennium Park on Saturday.
The mayor originally said she would issue an executive order imposing the curfew. She did so “under her emergency powers,” City Law Department spokeswoman Kristen Cabanban said, but “she always intended to codify the change and get full Council approval.”
The emergency order took effect Tuesday when it was filed with the city clerk’s office, Cabanban said. The council’s public safety committee is due to vote Friday on formally moving up the 11 p.m. curfew now on the books.
Lightfoot’s actions have drawn criticism from civil rights activists. ACLU attorney Alexandra Block said the mayor’s “last-minute addition of this item to the council’s agenda effectively recognizes that the mayor does not have the legal authority to change the curfew law by fiat.”
“Her attempted power grab is wrong, as is her reliance on curfews to fight crime. Curfews will not reduce violence in our city,” Block said in a statement. “Once again, Mayor Lightfoot appears unwilling to do the hard work of building bridges between the community and police, rather than using hastily cobbled-together measures that rely on failed tactics and disproven assumptions.”
Lightfoot’s curfew announcement Monday followed the death of 16-year-old Seandell Holliday of the Roseland neighborhood, who was shot near The Bean on Saturday night, allegedly by a 17-year-old. Police said the shooting occurred during an altercation at a time when large groups of young people had gathered at the downtown park in a scene that became chaotic.
The curfew change came a day after the mayor said she was banning unaccompanied minors from Millennium Park after 6 p.m. on Thursdays through Sundays, starting this weekend.
“Anyone coming into our public spaces should be able to enjoy them safely,” she said Monday. “Young people are absolutely welcome downtown but in the evening hours they must be accompanied by a responsible adult.”
Many young people are looking for space “to hang out” and are tired of being indoors, Lightfoot said, and that’s understandable. But she lamented the large, chaotic scene over the weekend where a teenager was shot and large crowds of teenagers flooded downtown, stopping traffic and jumping on vehicles.
Aiming to find alternative activities for youths when they’re out of school, Lightfoot and first lady Amy Eshleman on Wednesday announced the launch of the My CHI My Future mobile app, touted as a “resource designed to help teens easily find out-of-school programs, events, resources, jobs and more.”
Chicago’s curfew policy for minors, which has been in place for three decades, contains several exceptions. Minors can be out after curfew, for example, if they’re accompanied by or doing an errand for a parent or guardian, attending an event supervised by adults and sponsored by an official organization, standing on the sidewalk outside their home or if it’s an emergency. Minors are also exempt if they’re exercising First Amendments rights such as at a protest.
Lightfoot’s executive order added an additional caveat for ticketed or sponsored events, signaling the curfew hours would not apply for minors hoping to attend Lollapalooza or other music festivals that stretch into the late evening. A minor would need a ticket stub, wristband or other proof they are allowed at the event for the exception to be valid.
The executive order declared the increase in crimes committed by minors an “emergency” and directed Chicago police to “immediately increase enforcement” of the curfew. That includes tactics ranging from voluntary compliance to taking minors into custody until an adult “having legal care or custody” arrives.
Chicago already has a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew law on the books for Sunday through Thursday nights for minors age 12 to 16. For younger children, the current curfew is 8:30 p.m. weekdays and 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights.
Lightfoot’s executive order moving the Friday and Saturday curfew to 10 p.m. defines minors at anyone under 18. It wasn’t immediately clear if the proposed ordinance change would apply to 17-year-olds.