Philadelphia extends youth curfew after flash mobs

August 22, 2011 11:06:31 AM PDT
A stricter curfew for minors will be extended two weeks in Philadelphia because the measure has been successful in helping to curb violent attacks by teen mobs that had severely injured several people in recent months, city officials said.

The 9 p.m. summertime curfew was put in place earlier this month downtown and in the University City neighborhood - home to the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. Mayor Michael Nutter's administration is extending it two weeks, until the regular school-year curfew takes effect.

His spokesman Mark McDonald said the curfew is sending "a very strong message."

"It's a success, a relative success," McDonald said Monday. "We will pick up any child who violates the curfew. ... We are enforcing it. And going forward we are enforcing it."

There have been few major problems the last few weeks since the curfew was put into effect, McDonald said. Last weekend, there were 32 youths picked up for curfew violations, according to police.

The special summertime curfew applies to all children under age 18, with a handful of exceptions, such as youths traveling to jobs.

The regular school-year curfew starts Sept. 6. Under that city ordinance, youth ages 13 to 17 are subject to a 10:30 p.m. curfew on weekdays and a midnight curfew on weekends; children up through age 12 have a curfew of 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends.

In one mob attack last month, a man ended up in the hospital with broken teeth and a wired jaw after a group of teenagers attacked him downtown. Hours later, a crowd of young people assaulted four other men. An 11-year-old boy was among the four young people arrested in the case.

In its efforts to crack down on the attacks, the city has also stationed more police officers downtown, extended the hours of some youth centers and embarked on a campaign to get business leaders to register their security cameras with the police department. There have been some problems and opposition associated with the stricter curfew.

Last weekend, a group of opponents gathered to call the new curfew illegal and racist, saying economic development was needed to solve the problem. Earlier this month, on the first weekend of the new curfew, a teenage girl was stabbed while walking home from a city-sponsored bowling party in the Juniata neighborhood, an event where Nutter had appeared earlier.

On Tuesday, state Rep. Louise Williams Bishop, a Philadelphia Democrat who heads the House Children and Youth Committee, was scheduled to hold a public hearing on the flash mob attacks at St. Joseph's University.


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