by Rachel Swan
Protesters packed Tuesday's public safety committee meeting to kill a prospective "juvenile protection curfew ordinance" that would prohibit minors from being outside between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekdays, or 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Fri.-Sat. Written by council member Larry Reid, the ordinance would have allocated $75, 290.36 for OPD to perform sweeps during those hours. Anyone picked up would be taken home to a parent or guardian, or to a "receiving center" for counseling, if no parent or guardian could be contacted. Reid said he did not intend to criminalize youth, and that the bill's title was no euphemism since it would curb violent crime and allow OPD to pick up young prostitutes during those hours.
Protesters argued that the money would be better spent on organizations and youth programs that aren't affiliated with the police. Many argued that "increased contact with the police" would by traumatic to minors, and that using a curfew as a mechanism to deliver resources is absurd. Council member Patricia Kernighan admitted that the timing of this bill was "not so perfect," given the recent Oscar Grant killing. The crowd jeered.
Twenty-five people spoke in all, twenty-three against and two in favor -- both business owners in Oakland who complained about vandalism during late-night hours. Oakland businessman Preston Taylor said there is no reason for minors to be out at 2 or 3 a.m., nor any "reasonable expectation" for youth centers to provide structured activities during those hours. After council members Nancy Nadel and Jean Quan announced they would vote against the ordinance, Reid acknowledged defeat.