As Lollapalooza begins, organizations protest ‘unconstitutional’ curfew
Good Kids Mad City and Brighton Park Neighborhood Council protested outside a festival entrance, saying the curfew is enforced against the city’s young Black and Brown population, while Lollapalooza attendees get a pass.
As Lollapalooza kicked off its first day of the four-day festival, dozens of Chicago activists and children held court outside, saying the huge gathering in Grant Park helps highlight the uneven enforcement of the city’s curfew.
“These curfews are unfortunately enforced against Black and Brown kids,” said Kara Crutcher, attorney for Good Kids Mad City and the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council.
With her were people holding up signs declaring, among other things, “This curfew is racist,” and “Lori’s A Looza.”
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Crutcher noted thousands of Lollapalooza attendees likely are in the age group targeted by the curfew. The new rules, passed this year, state that children 17 and under must not be out after 10 p.m. unless with an adult.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who spearheaded the modified curfew as a way to reduce youth violence, said in May that it was “offensive and wrong and demonstrably false,” as some council members had claimed, that the curfew actually would increase violence. She also insisted curfew enforcement would not be race-based.
Exempt from the curfew are youth on their way home from a ticketed event like Lollapalooza.
“The backdrop of Lolla makes very clear who was allowed to be downtown and who was allowed to really do their city without harassment, and who isn’t,” Crutcher said. “Black and Brown kids are simply not allowed the same freedom and permission.”
Good Kids Mad City, in partnership with Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, sent a letter to the city on Thursday challenging the curfew as “unconstitutional.”
The city’s Law Department declined to comment on the letter.
The curfew “prevents the orgs that we represent from doing the transformative work that they’ve been doing in their communities,” Crutcher said. “This work includes educating and advocating for proven solutions to reduce violence, such as the Peacebook, and also holding space for young Black and brown kids to enjoy them and socialize in a safe, healthy space.”
The proposed Peacebook ordinance, introduced in June, calls for 2% of the Chicago Police Department’s budget to be allocated to nonviolence programs led by Chicago youth.
Teen members of Good Kids Mad City and the Brighton Park group spoke at the protest.
“We ask ourselves, is this once again another opportunity for police to target Black and Brown communities? I say yes,” said Jose Navarro. “Fun fact — The curfew does not apply to those with a Lolla ticket. Meaning, if you’re economically stable enough to purchase a Lolla ticket, the law does not apply to you.”
A 2016 study by the Campbell Collaboration, a nonprofit that analyzes data for policymakers, looked at over 7,000 juvenile curfews and found the laws were not effective at reducing crime or victimization.
Some curfew laws have been successfully challenged in court. Crutcher said she hopes to avoid a federal lawsuit in Chicago.
“We do hope the city will meet us in negotiation and talk through solutions that do not use taxpayer dollars to support racist curfews and, instead, have conversations about solutions that are proven to reduce violence in these communities,” she said.
Added 16-year-old Isaiah Pinzino, a member of the Brighton Park group: “The exception for Lollapalooza seemed really classist to me if you can only be outside if you can buy a $200 ticket for a concert.”