DETROIT (WWJ) – While thousands of spectators lined the Detroit River for the city’s annual fireworks display, police were busy rounding up teenagers for violating a curfew that some say violates young people’s rights.
Detroit police officers detained more than 100 minors for violating the special citywide curfew, which required anyone age 17 and under to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian (with identification) while out and about from 6 p.m. June 23 until 6 a.m. June 24. An exception was made for those traveling to and from work, a recognized educational institution or organized sports.
The minors arrived by the busload at the city’s Southwest Precinct, on Fort Street near Clark Street, where they were held overnight until their parents arrived to take them home.
Officers at the precinct Tuesday morning told WWJ’s Mike Campbell that all children were picked up before the 6 a.m. deadline, at which point their parents would have faced a $500 lodging fee. The officers also said all parents are subject to receiving a parental responsibility violation ticket.
The city ensures the curfew is in place to keep minors safe during one of Detroit’s most attended events, but some say it unfairly puts young people on lockdown.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU), which urged the city not to enforce the curfew, said it unconstitutionally criminalizes minors who are doing nothing wrong.
“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,” said Michael Steinberg, legal director for the ACLU of Michigan. “Even if their parents give them permission to leave the house, they’re essentially prisoners in their own home.”
Steinberg said the “emergency curfew ordinance” is too broad and shouldn’t apply to the whole city if police are concerned about activity along the riverfront, where crowds gather to watch the fireworks.
“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,” he said.
Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody said the curfew is not meant to stereotype or criminalize minors, but instead is meant to keep them safe — especially on a night during which many fire guns in celebration.