A newly-enforced curfew in Philadelphia led to the apprehension of dozens of juveniles this past weekend. While police hope that the new ordinance will protect parts of the city – including the Penn area – from violent mobs, it may end up targeting some of Penn’s younger students.
On Aug. 12, over 50 juveniles were rounded up in Philadelphia’s South Street area, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Twelve were apprehended the next night in Center City.
The curfew is in response to multiple instances of violent teen “flash mobs” that, since June, have plagued Center City and South Street and have resulted in both stolen property and broken legs.
On Aug. 8, Philadelphia Mayor and Penn Alumnus Michael Nutter made the executive decision to enforce the curfew in Center City and University City. After 9 p.m. on weekends, minors must be indoors or else be picked up by police, barring some exceptions, such as a job or participation in a program and military service. According to the Division of Public Safety, no ordinance violations were written in University City.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has said the new strategy will last at least two weeks, and then be re-evaluated. According to Penn’s Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush, if Nutter’s executive decision still stands when freshmen start arriving on campus, Penn Police will apply the rule to students under 18. However, she said, police attention “would be focused on large crowds” spotted by PennComm cameras, University City patrols and Allied Barton security patrols.
“If someone’s just grabbing a bite to eat, police will be reasonable,” Rush said.
She also said exceptions would be made for students who can show they are participating in New Student Orientation or other student-related programs and events, as well as those being escorted by an adult.
According to Nicholas Rapport, a student coordinator for NSO, only “a very small portion” of the incoming class will be under 17, and the NSO office is “certainly not concerned” with the curfew rounding up students who are minors.
In the event that the mayor’s curfew is not in effect during the school year, Penn Police will still enforce a curfew which, according to Rush, it has always enforced. When flash mobs became frequent in 2008 and 2009, Rush said, police enforced a curfew of 10:30 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday for all minors, 9 p.m. on the weekends for those under 13, and midnight for those between the ages of 14-18.
In addition to curfews, the Division of Public Safety has also forged partnerships with community leaders to find alternative activities for juveniles in the past. “We were able to control the 2008 and 2009 phenomenon by ensuring that kids who were coming were welcome as long as they participated in a lawful and respectful way,” Rush said.