Despite concern, Baltimore City positive about new curfew law

ACLU still awaiting response to concerns

BALTIMORE - Orlando Weaver is outraged by the Baltimore's new curfew laws . He's adopted the mantra that it's going to further drive a wedge into the already fragile relationship between city youth and Baltimore police.

Weaver is a 46-year-old construction worker with five kids of his own, and seven more that he cares for that belong to his wife. 

He said his 17-year-old son last week was stopped and made to sit on the curb by Baltimore police. He didn't say specifically why. 

"Now you have a curfew on children that raise hell in the city, but what about the ones that are good, like mine," Weaver said.

Weaver said his son is now scared.

“The curfew just enforced it. …It’s a police state,” he said.

PERSPECTIVE | City to impose one of the strictest youth curfews in U.S., see how other cities compare

Following the first weekend of the much-debated curfew’s enforcement, the Baltimore mayor's office reported overall positive reviews.

"The response from all those involved has been a good one," said Caron Brace, spokesperson for the mayor's office. "We hope to build on that as everyone gets used to the change."

Baltimore Mayor: ‘You cannot cast off your responsibility because it’s hard’ (VIDEO)

During the weekend, 16 youths were picked up after curfew. Three were taken directly home instead of to a youth center.

Brace said the city has had implemented a curfew since 1994, something not realized by many residents.

"Police are not out there looking for children," she said. "It's something that is incorporated during their shifts." 

She added that the youth centers are also working with the children and their families, to connect them to resources that might be needed to help better living situations.

Despite the positive report from the mayor’s office, the curfew remains a hot-button issue. It’s an issue on which the Baltimore Police Department won’t even comment. Monday, when ABC2 reached out to the police department, a spokesperson refused to comment on what officers saw or troubles they may have faced in the first few days of enforcing the curfew. Requests for comment from the police department were directed to the mayor’s office.

Also, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has expressed concerns which align with the concerns of Orlando Weaver.

READ | ACLU questions new Baltimore curfew 

Sonia Kumar, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, said the organization will continue to monitor the curfew in Baltimore.

“I don’t think any of our concerns have changed,” Kumar said. “We’re still keeping our ears to the ground.”

Last week, the ACLU filed a Maryland Public Information Act request with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, seeking further clarification about some of the policies contained in the law. The ACLU has not received a response yet, Kumar said.

RELATED | ACLU, others propose alternative to Baltimore curfew plans

As concern over the curfew’s enforcement swells, there are those just as passionate about the opportunity to use it to “keep everyone safe.”

Candice Singleton, 20, grew up in Baltimore and lives on Biddle Street. She says nothing good happens after 9 p.m.

"I love it because it helps keep everyone safe,” Singleton said. “It's more helpful for kids if they're in the house by the time it gets dark outside. There's less commotion about someone getting hurt, there being misunderstanding or not knowing how to get home because it's dark outside. I think it's a good idea." 

SEE ALSO |Shooting underscores need for new curfew in Baltimore, residents say

Sonya Dorsey is a parent of kids in the city. At 49-years-old, her kids are now older. But, the curfew law reminds her of how family played a role in keeping her children out of the streets. She’s hopeful the curfew will provide that opportunity for those in the community to connect with children like she did with hers.  

"I feel good about the curfew law and I think we can gain more control of the children,” Dorsey said. “I think we can find out what the kids need.  The kids are going to be picked up. We can find out what their needs are if we pick them up and put them on the right path." 

Dorsey also believes kids in Baltimore need to get to know police officers in their neighborhood. She’s hoping enforcement of the curfew will lend that opportunity.

"All police officers are not bad. I've witnessed some police officers are very great with communities, on foot, working with the children in communities," she said.

The new, stricter curfew in Baltimore requires all those under the age of 14 be in by 9 p.m. Kids between 14 and 16 will be allowed out as later 10 p.m. on school nights and 11 p.m. on weekends and summer nights. 

Parents can be fined for children found violating the curfew. The fines can be avoided if family counseling is attended.

The curfew law was passed on a 13-2 city council vote in June.

** ABC2News.com's Allison Bourg, Sara Blumberg, Nick DiMarco and Brian Troutman contributed to this report.

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