In a move meant to circumvent not only the freedom of Washington, DC’s
youth, but to circumvent the democratic process, city council members
Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6)
introduced an emergency resolution to lower the curfew time to 10 p.m.
this summer (instead of 11 currently) and raise the age to 17 (instead
of 16 currently). As emergency legislation this bill avoided the
standard hearings and public comment that non-emergency bills have.
With no crime emergency and no appeal for an earlier curfew from the
police chief or mayor many council members recognized this as a ploy
to avoid public participation.
NYRA has a long history of opposing the DC curfew and organized large
protests against the curfew when it first went into effect in 1999.
NYRA once again was on the forefront of fighting this measure as we
made a last minute mobilization against this bill. NYRA sent letters
to all city council members and urged all areas members to do the
same. We also spread the word to other business owners, youth groups
and community leaders who hadn’t heard about this bill because of the
rushed and sneaky introduction of it.
Thanks to the efforts of NYRA, the ACLU, and many concerned businesses
and citizens this bill was voted down. With a vote of 7 in favor and
6 against it failed to reach the 9 votes needed to pass as emergency
legislation. The most forceful opposition came from council member
Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) and council member Phil Mendelson (D-At
Large). Thomas said the curfew was creating a “state of apartheid”
for D.C. youth. Many council members were opposed to the curfew
This is a great victory for NYRA and a great victory for the rights of
young people in Washington, DC. If you live in the DC area and are
interested in organizing a chapter to fight the existing curfew law
and be on guard for future bills that infringe on youth rights please
contact us. Read the Washington Post article here.