St. Paul Youth React to Curfew Law At Youth Forum

Saint Paul City Council member Rebekah Noecker has proposed changes to the city's curfew law. A group of young people met with Noecker and law enforcement to share their experiences. They are concerned that this law codifies profiling; and the criminalizing of youth.

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  1. The curfew law awaits a third reading at the St. Paul City Council. This is the first time that youth are being consulted by either law enforcement or policymakers on the curfew.
  2. CM Noecker represents Ward 2 (West 7th Street, the West Side, Summit Hill, Railroad Island, Lowertown, and the Downtown business district). In her remarks, CM Noecker said that she ran for office to make St. Paul safer for young people. She was elected in 2015, and the curfew is her first legislation. She says that her office and the St. Paul Police Department saw a rise in nuisance calls; and the police recommended the curfew ordinance.
  3. As the adults in the room listened in, one of the young people read out the ordinance. Highlights: Breaking the curfew will result in a petty offense , parents and businesses could be charged with misdemeanors if youth break curfew, if stopped youth have to demonstrate legitimate reason for being in downtown, inclusion of Skyway curfew.
  4. The downtown skyway is used by many of the youth, to access public transit, on their home to and from work.
  5. Throughout the forum, the youth were worried that police officers would profile them; and conduct random searches. They already do not trust the police, they said. They wondered if they would need to get a note from their employer to prove that they were in transit to or from work.
  6. Youth acknowledged that they make mistakes, and did not want their parents punished if they broke curfews. The consequences on working class families was a concern for them.
  7. Youth did not understand why a law meant to keep them safe would result in a petty offense or misdemeanor. They discussed how many of their parents expected them to be home at certain times; and breaking curfew was often innocent.
  8. Noecker has consistently claimed that this curfew is for the safety of the youth, but she stated that she has not consulted with them nor considered their points of view. Both young people and adults working as youth advocates pushed for Noecker to engage youth in substantive ways.
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