Detroit minors and their adult caregivers could be ticketed if they are out past 8 p.m. in the vicinity of next Monday’s Ford Fireworks show.
The City Council is expected to vote during its Tuesday formal session on an emergency ordinance that seeks to impose a 24-hour curfew on June 27 for youth 17 and under. The curfew for unattended youth would go into effect at 8 p.m. and run through 6 a.m. on June 28.
If approved, the curfew would not apply citywide. It would be confined to the area bounded by the Detroit River, Third Street, the Lodge Freeway and Fisher Freeway as well as the extension of the Fisher Freeway east to Gratiot Avenue, Gratiot Avenue, Vernor Highway, Chene Street, Atwater Street and the Aretha Franklin Amphitheater. The fireworks at Hart Plaza downtown are expected to get underway at 9:56 p.m.
Detroit Police Department Deputy Chief Franklin Hayes said during a Monday public hearing that the curfew is “nothing new” for the city, but it’s been suspended over the last couple years while the annual fireworks display has been held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ordinance, Hayes said, is meant to provide “an extra layer of parental responsibility and accountability for our young Detroiters.”
“This is just a tool. This is not something we would use as a dragnet so to speak to arrest or detain minors,” Hayes said during the council’s Public Health and Safety committee. “What we’re looking for is a family member, a parent or a responsible adult to ensure safety and be able to give that immediate direction and oversight while they enjoy the fireworks.”
Curfew proposals during Detroit’s fireworks have been controversial in past years, with civil rights groups sometimes arguing the restrictions were unjust and raised racial concerns in majority-Black city.
Hayes said although ticketing has been on the table in past years, the enforcement has been used “very sparingly” but “it is essential to have an orderly event” and “to keep onlookers safe.”
In 2017, he said, police wrote two curfew tickets and two parental responsibility tickets. In 2018, he added, there were four curfew tickets and three parental responsibility tickets, and, in 2019, prior to the suspension of in-person shows tied to COVID-19, there were five curfew and five parental tickets. Back in 2014, in comparison, Detroit police detained about 150 juveniles for violating curfew rules and issued parent responsibility tickets.
Tonja Long of Detroit’s Law Department noted that the emergency ordinance is permitted under Detroit’s City Charter.
Teens ages 17 and up would face misdemeanors in 36th District Court for violating the curfew. Detroiters under 17 out beyond the curfew would face different consequences. Those would be handled by the juvenile court. Under the ordinance, responsible adults are persons ages 21 and up who are responsible for the youth, she said.