St. Louis curfew bill down, but definitely not out

St. Louis curfew bill down, but definitely not out

CITY HALL – A tongue lashing for “irresponsible parents” wasn’t enough to push through on Wednesday a bill that would tighten the city’s curfew, but it appears almost certain that the measure will reappear, and it could pass later this month.

A repeat of Wednesday’s 90-minute debate on the curfew could be ahead at the July 14 meeting of the Board of Aldermen.

The measure officially died on Wednesday when 12 members voted for the bill and 12 voted against it. But one of those “no” voters plans to announce at the next meeting that he has changed his mind, and move for reconsideration.

Twenty-second Ward Alderman Jeffrey Boyd favors the bill but voted against it so he could change his vote in a parliamentary procedure.

The bill, sponsored by Third Ward Alderman Brandon Bosley, seeks to revise a 1996 curfew bill sponsored by his father, then-Alderman Freeman Bosley Sr.

The new bill would reduce the curfew to 9:30 p.m. on weeknights and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, from the current 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. It would lower the maximum jail time to 30 days from 90 days but raise the minimum fines for parents to $300 from $100. The bill would make it a crime for a person under 17 to be outside after the curfew time, with some exceptions. 

African-American aldermen gave  passionate speeches about the high crime in their areas and said this was a good way to keep youngsters off the streets and away from deadly violence. 

“This is not as punitive as it needs to be,” 19th Ward Alderwoman Marlene Davis said. “It is not OK to be an irresponsible parent.” The fines would encourage parents to spend more time with their children, she said. 

Boyd spoke about the old message on television that said, “It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your children are?” He said he was not encouraging police to round up African-Americans at 10 p.m. But he is encouraging action to make parents be parents.

Bosley said that many teenagers late at night became murder victims and that their parents might say, “If my child was here right now, I would have found time to spend with them.” This isn’t a way to provide police with another way to harass young people, Bosley said.

Some white aldermen expressed concern that lowering the curfew might introduce young people to the criminal justice system earlier.

“I’m going to vote no on this,” 15th Ward Alderwoman Megan Green said. “A lot of the parents that I worked with did not have an extra $300,” she said, speaking of the time she worked with youths and low-income people before she was elected.

But Davis, in response to that line of opposition, made an impassioned plea, saying that telling youths and parents that such behavior was “OK,” was unacceptable.

“It’s not OK, and it’s ruining our community,” she said.

Eighth Ward Alderwoman Annie Rice said the bill would criminalize parents who had jobs during off hours.

“We already have a curfew on the books,” she said. “It is not being enforced.” She also expressed concern that the bill would add another layer of contact with criminal justice.

Twenty-fourth Ward Alderman Bret Narayan was uneasy about a provision that would extend the end of curfew to 7 a.m. from 5 a.m.

The lapsing of the bill took place several days after city police arrested Bosley. A source with knowledge of the situation said Bosley had struck his daughter. The arrest appears to be confirmed by a post Bosley put on his own Facebook page late Sunday.

“Discipline your children or they will become victims or suspects..just went to jail for it,” is what Bosley posted on his publicly visible Facebook account.