Should Oakland teens have a curfew?

OPD thinks so. At 5:30 p.m. tonight, the City of Oakland’s Public Safety Committee hears a proposal to keep kids under 18 off the streets between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on school nights, and between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekends.

Tribune file photo by Ray Chavez

You can read a detailed report in support of the “Youth Protection Curfew” here.

Some community organizations plan to protest the proposal, saying it “criminalizes youth, parents and businesses.” The following release is circulating from a group called Critical Resistance:

Community Groups Oppose Youth Curfew for Oakland

Ordinance to be heard tonight criminalizes youth, parents and businesses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 2/10/09 CONTACT: Critical Resistance,

510-444-0484; cell 510.435.6809

WHAT: Public Safety Hearing on Youth Curfew for Oakland.

WHEN: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at 5:30pm

WHERE: Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room 1

WHO: Critical Resistance, Oakland Community members

OAKLAND, CA — Oakland community groups, residents and youth will join forces to oppose a youth curfew for Oakland. The proposal, which comes on the heels of mass arrests during the protests of the execution of Oscar Grant, is set to be discussed at the City Public Safety Committee tonight.

“A curfew means that more youth will be locked up. What does it say about our community that we would criminalize a young person simply for being out after 10pm?” asks Rose Braz of Critical Resistance, an Oakland based community group that works for true public safety in Oakland, not more policing and imprisonment.

“We need jobs, housing and quality education, not a curfew,” said Randy Garcia-Dancy, 19 years old of Critical Resistance. “Policies like the curfew that scapegoat youth only compound the challenges young people face.”

The proposed ordinance by City Council member Larry Reid would prohibit “the presence of all youth under 18 years of age on City streets between the hours of 10:00pm and 5:00am (Sunday through Thursday) and 11:00pm to 5:00am on Friday and Saturday.”

The ordinance would also make it a misdemeanor for a parent to allow a young person to violate the ordinance. Moreover, “owners and operators of entertainment establishments open to the public can also be charged” if they knowingly allow youth on their premises during curfew hours.

“Study after study concludes that curfews do not reduce crime,” continues Braz. In 2003, the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science published the results of a systematic review of juvenile curfews nationwide and concluded “the evidence does not support the argument that curfews prevent crime and victimization.”

In 1999, the Western Criminological Review also mounted an exhaustive review of existing curfews, finding that “There is no support for the hypothesis that jurisdictions with curfews experience lower crime levels.”

“After what happened to Oscar Grant and many other youth killed by the police, how could we consider giving police yet another opportunity for racial profiling. Who will Oakland police stop at 10 p.m.? What neighborhoods will see a lockdown from 10 p.m. to 5 a. m.?,” says Ritika Aggarwal, 24, organizing with Critical Resistance. “The 1865 Black Codes permitted the imprisonment of ex-slaves traveling after 10 p.m. without a note from their employer.”

Economically, a curfew isn’t feasible, either. “Oakland can’t find money to keep its schools open; Alameda County is scrambling for money for re-entry services. Does spending approximately $75,000 to enforce the ordinance plus thousands to lock up a young person for being out past 10 p.m. make sense?” says Molly Porzig, 22, of Critical Resistance. “We know what builds safe communities. We need more opportunities for young people not a curfew.”

What effect do you think these restrictions would have on public safety, on business and on teenagers?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • http://futureoakland.wordpress.com dto510

    It seems to be true that curfews don’t prevent crime or victimization (see TheOakBook.com’s story). But this statement shows how poorly the young activists in Oakland understand the municipal and police budget.

  • Nextset


  • jumoke

    the budget outlined for this effort is $75,000 according to the city.Are you adding other administrative cost to suggest it would be higher?

    Not talking to OUSD before such a policy is a bad idea!

    It got knocked down for now!

  • Katy Murphy

    Interesting… so OUSD (and its police force) weren’t involved in these conversations?

  • John

    Minimally there should be a curfew for non Oakland teens, a measure that could keep uninformed innocent teens away from the animal traps. The locals are better informed about Oakland’s lurking dangers and where they’re more likely to lurk. Turning kids lose after hours in such areas should be prosecuted as kid abuse or abuser kids, as circumstances and upbringing may warrant.

    I recently re-visited Oakland’s Montclair village on several after dark occasions with the power lock (still) off. While Montclair (still) appears the safest loitering option for Oakland’s innocent fun loving after dark youth, it seems closer to poised for becoming another part of greater more dangerous Oakland. Some evening establishments I once visited as a hill area resident are now closing earlier, another step in acknowledging Montclair’s oneness with an encroaching larger Oakland culture.

    For the Montclair patron renting a movie, filling a gas tank, or pushing a grocery cart after dark, BEING AWARE of your surroundings and clutching your vehicle/personal panic alarm should suffice into the not too distant future. Also keep in mind that the Orinda Safeway, unlike Montclair’s, is (remains) open 24 hours.

    But I digress. Therefore, you should read the first paragraph and skip the rest.

  • hello

    no they need freedom……………… trust your kids(teens) have faith they need you trust give it to them!!!!!!!!!!

  • Nextset

    Hello: You trust a teen to be a teen. Nothing more. Curfews are not all that you do – you can also use real time GPS monitoring on the car so you know where the car is and where the car has been. You also limit who your teen is allowed to associate with. And you set limits on dress, etc.

    When they move out and support themselves they are “free” to do things their way.

  • pcyeta

    I know this is kinda late, since these responses were posted months ago and the article itself was written way back in February, however…I have to ask the question that no one seems to be asking…Why the hell are teenagers out after 10:00pm on a school night?? As an Oakland resident, I fully supported the proposed curfew and it’s really a shame that it didn’t pass.

  • Sara

    Yeah, I trusted my teenage daughter and found out years later that she had climbed out the window to go out when I was asleep. I thought she was such a good girl. I am just thankful nothing bad happened to her. Kids don’t need to be out after 10:00 on a school night. People who say trust your teens are either idiots or they were angels as teens. My daughter was hanging out with a girl who had no parental supervision whatsoever so I shouldnt have been so naive.

  • student

    I am a student at a high school in the edps and i think that the shcool should not have a say in the curfew of the students.
    If they do it is making more laws and the more laws we have the less we are gonna start listening to them.
    parents should have the upper hand in planing curfews that fit the child. If the child comes home on time and get good grades then she or he may have a diffent curfew then their friends or sister/brother.