Baltimore community lobbies against proposed curfew

It is a united front for the Matthew Henson Neighborhood Association. They stand together against the newly proposed curfews in Baltimore that they say will have unintended negative consequences for the city's youths. 
 
"Basically you're about to enhance the curfew when in fact you haven't enforced the one you have," Marvin "Doc" Cheatham, president of the neighborhood association, said. 
 
Cheatham said there are many flaws with the proposal including what he thinks would be a negative effect on relationships in the city. 
 
"What we're fearful of is that this is going to probably widen the gap between the community and the police and right now, it's not that good now," Cheatham said. 
 
They brought in American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland staff attorney Sonia Kumar for their Tuesday night meeting to discuss the curfew, which was introduced and supported by Baltimore County Councilman Brandon Scott. 
 
In previous discussions , Scott claimed that the new law would actually help youth who are out after the community, making it easier for police to identify them and get them the resources they need. 
 
Kumar however calls the proposal a one size fits all approach that, however well intentioned, just isn't effective.
 
"Using law enforcement to identify young people in need is really not effective, is really not shown to be effective and also is likely to increase unnecessary contacts between young people and police that can lead to criminalization of young people and their arrest," Kumar said. 
 
The changes include expanding the hours of the daytime and nighttime curfews.
 
Under current law, kids under 17 years old can be out as late as 11 p.m. on weekdays. The new measure would establish a 9 p.m. curfew for children under 14 years old. Children 14 to 16 would be allowed to be out until 10 p.m. on school nights and 11 p.m. on the weekends. 
 
 
The fine for parents would also increase from $300 to $500, and children in violation would be taken to youth connection centers. 
 
"This is something that's going to help us connect the younger kids that are out on the streets that need the resources they need for their families. Even though we've had a curfew for over 20 years in the City of Baltimore but having school kids out at 11 p.m. during the school night is just too late,"  Scott, who sponsored the bill, said. 
 
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has said, "if it passes through the council, I look forward to signing it."
 
That is exactly what opponents hope to prevent by coming together before council members take a final vote.
 
"This issue with the curfew, it is wrong, it is inappropriate at this time and we do not want to criminalize our children," Cheatham said. 
 
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