Proposed Fireworks Curfew: Will It Promote Safety or Exclude Detroit’s Kids?

Is Detroit’s new extended fireworks curfew motivated by discrimination or public safety?

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Every summer during the annual Detroit Ford Fireworks, the City of Detroit has implemented a curfew for children 17-years-old and younger. Children can attend the event, but they are required to be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or a responsible adult.

However, the city has proposed a new curfew this year that would extend for the entire duration of River Days. Parents and civil rights groups such as the NAACP have criticized city administrators for potentially excluding Detroit’s youth on a racial basis. 

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with Detroit Police Chief James Craig during the first half of the show about the controversy surrounding the curfew. Stephen also takes listeners calls throughout the hour.

Here are some of the highlights: 

  • Parental Involvement: Chief Craig believes that the curfew can be boiled down to one word: supervision. “This is not about blocking out young people,” he tells Henderson, “it’s about a parent or guardian or another adult to provide supervision.  If it doesn’t happen, then it falls onto the police.”
  • Role of Law Enforcement: Craig indicated that the police do not have the manpower to keep unsupervised youth in check.  A curfew is a strategy tool that urges supervision and is a way to manage violent encounters.  He also said that it’s a safety issue for the police.  With a curfew, police will be able to concentrate on protection and not supervision.
  • Community Solutions: Detroit’s police chief realizes that there are many critics to the  extensive curfew, but tells Henderson that the critics “should identify a group of kids and bring them to the fireworks and supervise them [and] be part of the solution.”

In the second half of the show, Stephen speaks with NAACP President Reverend Wendell Anthony to get the opposing viewpoint.

  • Respectful Disagreement: Reverend Anthony says he respects Chief Craig and the police (and is not against the police), but says the police should enforce the curfew the city has always had in place. 
  • Charges of Discrimination: Anthony understands that the curfew covers all youth but claims most of those who end up getting in trouble are black or brown children. “The evidence is overwhelming,” according to Anthony, “black and brown kids are targets.”
  •  Looking to Successful Outreach Models: Anthony says Detroit administrators should look to community outreach campaigns such as Angels Night to alleviate crime and strength neighborhood cohesion. 

To hear the entire conversation, please click the audio link above.