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ACLU: Youth Curfew During Detroit Fireworks Is Unconstitutional, Unfair

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DETROIT (WWJ) - The ACLU of Michigan says Monday night’s Detroit city-wide 6 p.m. curfew for those under 18 is unconstitutional and criminalizes minors who aren’t doing anything wrong.

The group sent a letter to city  officials urging them not to enforce the ordinance, which was enacted because of the big Ford Fireworks show.

Michael Steinberg, legal director for the ACLU of Michigan, says the ordinance it unfairly criminalizes minors who are doing nothing wrong and is just too broad.

“I know that in the past the majority of the problems happen with adults, not with kids’ but there’s no excuse, in my view, to extend this curfew throughout the entire city,” Steinberg said. “…We want the police to take care of crime, but you can’t do so by relying on harmful stereotypes about young people in the city Detroit.”

Steinberg says the curfew places on lockdown a large number of young Detroiters who have peaceful plans.

“They can’t go to church, they can’t go to a youth group meeting, they can’t play basketball at the neighborhood court, the can’t do errands for their parents,” he said. “Even if their parents give them permission to leave the house, they’re essentially prisoners in their own home.”

Detroit police Sgt. Michael Woody say the curfew is not meant to stereotyping or criminalize minors, but instead is meant to keep them save — especially on a night on which many fire their guns in celebration.

By order of the city, the curfew requires that all minors age 17 and under be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian (with identification) while out and about anywhere in Detroit. Minors will be allowed to travel to and from work and/or organized sports.

The curfew is in effect from 6 p.m. on June 23 until 6 a.m. on June 24.

Minors in violation of the curfew will be taken to Southwestern District at 4700 W. Fort and issued a ticket, city officials said.  Minors will be held there until picked up by a parent or guardian. The parent or guardian also may receive a parental responsibility violation ticket.

Police plan a strong presence during the Ford fireworks in Detroit after large crowds during Detroit River Day, weekend reports of teens fighting, and online rumblings about planned shootings and gang members engaging in the so-called “knockout game” at the Ford Fireworks. [More on this HERE].

- Guide To 2014 Detroit Fireworks -

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