By Post Staff
Oakland City Councilmember Noel Gallo is preparing to introduce an ordinance to create a curfew in Oakland that would bar young people under the age of 18 from being out in public after 10 p.m.
Designed by Gallo to reduce the numbers of juveniles who are perpetrators or victims of crime, the proposal calls for fines,
community service or jail time for any unaccompanied child or teen found outside in a public area or inside a business between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. any day of the week.
Parents could be penalized if their children are picked up by police.
According to Gallo, council member for District 5, the law would prohibit anyone under 18 from being in the street, park, public outdoor space or car between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., unless they are accompanied by an adult age 21 or over or involved in certain activities, such as traveling to or from work, completing an errand on behalf of a parent or attending an official school, religious or city-sponsored recreational activity.
The proposal also bans young people from being in public during school hours, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
“I am not doing a curfew to lock everybody up, but if I am going to be able to help children and young people. I need to get them off the street,” Gallo said. “That’s the problem we have here in Oakland: we are all feeling sorry about (crime), we are all crying about it, … But we’re not taking the proactive measure to keep our kids at home.”
“When I look at the data from the police department, I see that children are committing crimes and are the victims of crime. And with the low graduation rate, the high drop out and truancy rates, it’s alarming,” said Gallo, who added that he favors setting up centers in West Oakland, East Oakland and Central Oakland where police can take young people, where they will receive counseling and other services.
The ordinance is already stirring opposition from youth and community groups, some of whom are raising concern over the findings of a new report by the ACLU, Black Organizing Project and Public Council that Black and Latino youth in Oakland are being arrested at shockingly high rates, often for minor offenses.
Black youth in Oakland comprised three quarters of all juvenile arrests by the Oakland Police Department during the past seven years, even though they make up only a quarter of the population. More than half of these arrests were not upheld.
“This curfew and Councilman Noel Gallo’s words are offensive to me as a youth who enjoys many aspects of Oakland, both its day- and night-life. I understand, as many youth do, that Oakland is a dangerous city and that violence and crime affects all citizens both directly and indirectly,” said Maya Rapier, an Oakland high school student, in a letter to the media.
“The problem with the curfew is that it does not address the root causes of Oakland’s crime problem and problem of youth violence,” she said. “By having police officers arrest, fine or incarcerate youths, you may be taking a few of them off the street, but you are not giving them the help they need to make better lives for themselves.”
“An alternative to wasting money on arresting youth could be to open more teen facilities, where we can go to hang out in a safe environment, and open more accessible resource centers,” Rapier said.
Gallo said he plans to introduce the proposal to the city’s Public Safety Committee, Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. at Oakland City Hall.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, November 1, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)