Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will ask aldermen to amend the city’s curfew for teens at a meeting Friday, according to the agenda of the Public Safety Committee — a sign the executive order she signed earlier this week might not be able to pass muster.
Lightfoot on Tuesday had issued the executive order to change the curfew, which received quick and harsh backlash from the ACLU of Illinois. The group questioned the legality and effectiveness of the order, given Chicago has already had a more lenient curfew ordinance in place for 30 years.
Lightfoot’s office did not respond to requests for comment about what this means for the executive order, or whether the mayor is abandoning it to pursue amending the curfew through City Council instead, given Friday’s meeting.
A version of the curfew amendment was not available online as of Wednesday afternoon.
The executive order was made public Tuesday and signed by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot this week. It calls for “increased enforcement” of a new, 10 p.m. curfew, and directs police to hold noncompliant teens in custody — immediately prompting the ACLU of Illinois to criticize the order and say they’re considering legal action.
The city already has a curfew ordinance that includes numerous exemptions that Lightfoot’s Law Department says will remain in place. But that ordinance allows teens to stay out until 11 p.m. on the weekends, which Lightfoot’s executive order changes to 10 p.m., seven days a week. The new executive order also included an exemption for minors attending ticketed events.
“My initial read is that it has a number of serious flaws,” said ACLU attorney Alexandra Block. “Primarily, it doesn’t indicate any legal authority that the mayor has to amend the city code relating to curfews. That gives us significant concerns that she’s acting outside of her authority.”
According to the executive order, police officers are directed to “immediately increase enforcement” of the new curfew — which will include using “de-escalation and dispersal tools” to educate kids into complying voluntarily.
The order directs officers to take those who do not comply into custody.
A minor would stay in police custody until their parent, guardian or “other adult having legal care or custody” picks them up, according to the order. It’s unclear if they’d be at risk of facing charges, and the Police Department did not answer questions about the course of action for teens who violate the curfew.
The ACLU of Illinois takes issue with that provision of the order, as well.
“If I’m interpreting this correctly, although it’s a bit unclear, what this executive order appears to contemplate is that police will indefinitely take custody of kids until a parent or guardian picks them up,” Block said. “Children may not have a parent or guardian immediately available. And this makes it sound like kids are going to be held indefinitely by the police, which is extremely concerning and may not be constitutional.”
The order does not include details on Lightfoot’s new Millennium Park policy, which bans Chicago teens from the park after 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, unless they are with a “responsible adult.” Lightfoot announced the restriction on Sunday after 16-year-old Seandell Holliday was fatally shot near the city’s iconic Cloud Gate sculpture, often referred to as “The Bean.”
The mayor’s office has not responded to requests for documentation of that new policy.
Mariah Woelfel covers Chicago city government at WBEZ. You can follow her at @MariahWoelfel.