by John Grooms
Here we go again, right on schedule. After the disturbances downtown a couple of weekends ago (a murder and a few teenage fights), everything went according to the usual Charlotte script, which you can read about in a previous blog post here. Now the next domino has fallen and you guessed it City Council members are talking about raising the age on the city curfew. Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon and others on Council say they want to raise the age to either 16 or 17. The current curfew outlaws anyone under 16 from being out after midnight without an adult. Raising the age to include 16 and 17-year-olds is a ridiculous idea on so many levels its hard to know where to start. But lets look at this.
According to the police, most of the kids in the crowd the night in question were obviously under 16, so theyre already covered by the curfew (not that it did any good). On the other hand, the young men involved in the shooting were over 17, so an extended curfew wouldnt have applied to them in any case. But, but, but, the mayor pro tem sputters, some of those kids were 16 or 17 and theyre out of the house at 12:01 a.m.! This has to be stopped!
So, now it should be a crime for a 17-year-old to be out at one minute after midnight? Would Mr. Mayor Pro Tem expect that curfew on 17-year-olds to be equally enforced all over the city, including the suburbs? How about on prom night? After high school football games? How about after a late movie? How about if it's the son or daughter of a big campaign contributor? Hmm, didn't think so.
So where does the raise the curfew age idea come from? No doubt from pressure on Council to look as if theyre doing something anything to assure the Uptown business community, the suburban whites who are the most freaked out by the disturbances (although they rarely come Uptown at night anyway), and Democratic convention planners, that our elected leaders are on top of this situation, dammit! Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. Council cant control Uptown crowds any more than you or I can, unless they want to impose a police state lockdown. (Personally, I can wait for that till the DNC arrives.)
No, raising the curfew age is just a typical politicians knee-jerk reaction to the brouhaha. It wouldnt do any good, and its practically unenforceable in any case. Meanwhile, the underlying reason for the huge, post-disturbance public freakouts many local whites ongoing fear of large crowds of black people walking around Uptown, peacefully or otherwise (or as we call it, Fear of A Black Weekend) remains in place. And that cant be dealt with by Council.