NYRA, and much of the Washington, DC area was caught by surprise this month when Montgomery County, MD County Executive Ike Leggett proposed a youth curfew law for the county. What was surprising is that crime has been steadily declining in the county, so unlike other communities that consider curfews, there seemed to be no real problem it seeks to address. Due to the proximity of Montgomery County to national NYRA staff and the political engagement of the county’s youth a well organized campaign quickly emerged to stop this bill from passing.
Rapidly after news broke on Monday July 11th about the bill a Facebook event was created called “Stand Up to the MoCo Youth Curfew!” calling upon opponents of the curfew to attend an upcoming hearing on the 26th. Within 48 hours over 2,000 said they were coming. Now the event has well over 5,000. NYRA has been working with the local activists, the County Council, and local press non-stop since this campaign began. As well known experts on curfews, NYRA has been sought for comment by local TV, radio, print and online press sources.
NYRA members and local organizers petitioned against the curfew outside of a busy movie theater in advance of the midnight screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Responses were overwhelmingly against the curfew and we easily got 200 petition signatures in an hour and a half. The petition effort and letter writing campaign are both going well.
In addition to testifying at the hearing next week, NYRA has reshuffled our Annual Meeting schedule to include a protest against the proposed curfew on the night of Friday July 29th. All conference attendees and local youth rights supporters are strongly encouraged to attend the rally, scheduled to begin at 9 pm in the plaza across the street from the Majestic theater in Silver Spring, MD. There will also be a workshop at the Annual Meeting led by the local high school students organizing the anti-curfew campaign.