Despite the uproar, curfew changes OK’d

City Council passed a stricter curfew bill Thursday despite opposition from 25 youth advocates, teens and teachers — and one councilwoman.

The bill essentially revises the current curfew law by dividing it into three age groups and establishing a summer and school-year curfew. Mayor Michael Nutter pushed for the changes after a rash of youth mob attacks during the summer.

“Former Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson said that we can’t arrest our way out of crime,” said Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who cast the lone vote against the bill. “We can’t fine our way out of curfew violations, either.”

Former Deputy Mayor of Public Safety Everett Gillison testified that the bill applies citywide and does not target minorities. The bill could draw a legal challenge, however, as a representative from the American Civil Liberties Union testified previously that the law is “almost certainly unconstitutional” and would “invite litigation.”

“In order to support the curfew bill, we would have to be able to trust that the police would not use racial profiling when enforcing it,” Occupy Philly member Susanna Martin said from a packed Council chambers. “I don’t think that trust is realistic.”

Added Adan Stevens Diaz, “The one person showing support for the bill was from the administration. I think that speaks for itself.”

Earlier hours

The curfew for 16- and 17-year-olds will begin at 10 p.m., for 14- and 15-year-olds at 9 p.m. and for children 13 and under at 8 p.m., with weekend hours the same as weeknights.

Parents will face $75 fines if their children are picked up.

The bill sunsets in two years, though Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown said that she will review data “much earlier” to determine if it is effective and that she and Gillison want to meet with opponents to “continue the dialogue.”