‘Help these young boys’ A closer look at 7 p.m. Atlanta youth curfew proposal

Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 6:27 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Atlanta City Councilwoman Keisha Sean Waites is proposing a 7 o’clock curfew in response to young people turning to guns to solve arguments.

This comes after Monday’s Public Safety Committee where the mother of 12-year-old Zyion Charles begged Atlanta leaders to do something after her son was shot and killed near Atlantic Station.

“Help these young boys that have a chance because I don’t have a chance anymore,” Charles’ mother said Monday.

Atlanta City Councilwoman Waites is responding to that mother’s plea.

“Frankly we believe this is a very small and minute price to pay to save the life of a young person,” said Waites.

The councilwoman wants to impose a 7 p.m. curfew for everyone under 17 years old.

So how would this be enforced?

“This would be a coalition, we’re asking all vendors, retail owners, small shopping centers to step up and yes, businesses need to participate in enforcing this and PD cannot do this alone,” said Waites.

She says parents and businesses need to enforce the curfew as well.

“If a 12-year-old knows they cannot go to McDonalds and they will not be served and they are not with an adult or someone with supervision, they probably will not go there anymore,” said Waites.

Waites said the curfew wouldn’t apply to kids working jobs or in organized athletics.

“We can create opportunities for these young people,” said Rev. Timothy McDonald, Senior Pastor at first Iconium Baptist Church.

Community leaders met in east Atlanta just days after Saturday’s shooting to come up with their own solutions to prevent youth violence.

Rev. Timothy McDonald called for a comprehensive approach to curb crime among youth.

“Curfew will have some impact but there is not one single mono approach to deal with crime, it’s got to be multiple.”

Waites said she agrees with those in the community who say a curfew is just part of a bigger solution to curb crime.

She said a 7 p.m. curfew wouldn’t hold back other efforts to engage the city’s youth.

“I would love to see our rec centers be open Friday and Saturday evenings until 10 p.m., so I don’t think this is a one size fits all solution, but I think it’s important that we change the culture,” said Waites.”

Atlanta Police Department declined to comment on the proposal.

Atlanta News First reached out to every member of the city’s Public Safety Committee.

In an email, Councilmember and Public Safety Chair, Dustin Hillis said:

While I support tightening up youth curfew in the City of Atlanta, 7PM seems egregious. Current curfew is 11PM (midnight on Friday and Saturday nights). I could see tightening that up an hour or two. Private properties (such as Atlantic Station) can always continue to institute and enforce tighter curfews on their properties.

Other council members who responded to our email on whether or not they support this proposal said they would like to see a version of the legislation first before deciding if they support it or not.