Teen-curfew bill draws fire, but procedural glitch is what blocks its progress

Posted: October 21, 2011

THE OCCUPATION came to City Council yesterday.

Members of Occupy Philadelphia left their Dilworth Plaza encampment to join with dozens of people who are taking a stand against the latest city curfew bill, which stalled yesterday.

The bill, introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown on behalf of the Nutter administration, follows temporary changes that the city made to curfew laws over the summer to address acts of violence committed by groups of young people.

"Who's the curfew protecting?" Che Gossett asked Council. "Is it protecting visitors? White privilege? People who are wealthy?"

Those who testified before Council argued that the bill violated civil rights.

"I now find myself anxious at the thought of my 18 year-old sister visiting me, worried that if she mistakenly left her ID at home, she might be thrown into the back of a police van and detained as a criminal," said Khadijah White. "This bill is morally and ethically reprehensible."

The latest plan would impose a $75 fine for a curfew violation, up from $25. The maximum penalty would be $500. Parents would have 30 days to pay the fine after receiving a violation notice. The curfew would expire in December 2013 so that the administration could determine its effectiveness.

"There were a number of compelling points raised and some of those were already addressed in the bill," Brown said. "We're always open to making a piece of legislation a better bill."

But the bill, which would establish three curfew classifications for children 17 and under, was held up due to a procedural error.

The bill had to be held because its committee-level approval wasn't reported in a timely manner for posting in the Legal Intelligencer, as required by law, said David Forde, Brown's aide.

Brown expects the bill to move forward.

* In other news, Council unanimously passed a bill introduced by Councilman Darrell Clarke that prohibits satellite-dish companies and installers from placing dishes at the front of homes unless placing them elsewhere would mean a significant additional cost or signal reduction.

Dishes installed in the future would have to match the color of the homes. Additionally, the measure calls for the removal of hundreds of inactive dishes.

* District Attorney Seth Williams joined Clarke as he introduced a resolution opposing the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act. That bill, being considered by Congress, would require states to honor permits from all states allowing the carrying of a concealed weapon.

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