On Friday, June 7th, 2018 the Philadelphia Police announced a crackdown on teens out past curfew. This may come as a surprise to those unaware of a curfew law in existence. While it has been on the books since 1955, the curfew law has not always been enforced. The original law punished store owners as well as parents and children. The minors and their families could be fined up to a hundred dollars, while the store owner could be fined up to three hundred. As the years went on the blame shifted mainly to the parents. Under mayor, John F. Street, who served until 2008, minors out too late would be taken to curfew centers instead of police stations.
Then, in 2010 there was a crackdown in response to a mass gathering on South Street of over a thousand teenagers. The “flash mob” soon turned violent, but police were able to prevent serious injuries thanks to parents tipping them off.
To ensure another incident would not occur, Mayor Michael Nutter announced a new curfew in 2011. Mayor Nutter addressed the crowd saying, “if you are out wreaking havoc, if you are out causing problems, if you are out doing things that you should not be doing, we are going to get you off the streets.” Over the course of the following year, fifty teens were arrested for violating the curfew. The violators have issued a citation and held at the nearest police station until their legal guardians came and got them. They also got a fine of up to five hundred dollars
Despite the determination of Mayor Nutter and the police, enforcement of the curfew declined over the next few years. That is why the recent announcement came as a shock to many. The amended curfew makes it illegal for minors to be out later than 11:00 PM in the summer and 10:00 PM during the school year. Depending on your age the curfew could be even tighter.
Maxx Stoyanoff-Williams is the night manager of the South Street restaurant, Milkboy. Williams is all too familiar with the problem of teen loitering. Williams says, “it is a task to get them out, and a lot of times you are fighting kids off or [preventing them] from coming in, sitting down and standing in front of your doorway.” Resident Yaffa Bruckner, an advocate of street safety, strongly agrees and believes it makes all parties involved safer.
However, some worry that the curfew could provide an opportunity for police to target minorities. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown recognizes this saying, “we decided to limit the execution of this law to those areas that were most negatively impacted.” Demographics could have an effect in deciding what areas are considered more dangerous, but not enough statistics are available to support that theory. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown recognizes that the curfew may need to be amended, but stands with the majority of legislators on the issue.
For the time being, the curfew remains in effect. So if you are under 18 and you feel like spending an evening on South Street, just make sure you watch the clock.