Mayor Michael A. Nutter said the first weekend of an earlier curfew for all minors went well except for one incident after a city-sponsored bowling party in an area outside the new curfew enforcement zone. The Mayor also called upon the business community to support positive youth development activities with employee volunteers, financial support and more summer and year-round job opportunities.
“We had about 70 curfew violations over the course of Friday and Saturday nights, and I am sure that young people and their parents have now gotten the message. We are going to continue to promote the positive, but we will also have continued enforcement of the curfew. It is strict and serious and there are no exceptions,” Mayor Nutter said.
The new curfew, part of the Mayor’s comprehensive response to so-called flash mobs and youth violence, set a 9 PM curfew on Fridays and Saturdays for all minors under 18 in Center City and University City. He also set expanded hours of service at 20 Philadelphia recreation centers on those two nights. Outside the two special enforcement areas, the normal summer curfew is in effect: children under 13 must be home by 10 PM. and young people under 18 must be home by Midnight.
Additionally, the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Youth Commission last night sponsored a bowling party at the Erie Lanes at 1310 Erie Avenue. It was a model for what the Mayor hopes will be a much larger program.
“We had a fantastic event last night with hundreds of kids out, bowling, dancing, listening to music and talking to each other. It was a demonstration of what good teenage fun is all about,” Mayor Nutter said.
After the event, which was located outside the new curfew enforcement zone, Philadelphia police say that a teenage girl, who had earlier attended the bowling party and was walking home, was stabbed in the arm allegedly by an 18-year-old male who also attended the party. The violent incident did not occur at the bowling party but rather about three blocks from the bowling alley. Police this morning arrested a suspect in the case.
“It’s unfortunate that this one individual made a very bad judgment and did something for which he is now in trouble. The criminal justice system will now deal with this young man,” said Mayor Nutter. “But an incident like this doesn’t change in any way, shape or form, the great night young people had at this event. And overall, it was a pretty quiet night in Philadelphia.”
Reviewing the two nights of increased enforcement, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said, “Enforcing an early curfew this weekend was an important part of making our City safe for everyone. Senseless violence by a few will not be tolerated in Center City, University City or anywhere in Philadelphia. We had a visible and professional police presence out this weekend, and we’ll continue to do whatever is necessary to bring back a strong sense of safety to our great City.”
Jordan Harris, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Youth Commission, said, “Last night more than 400 young Philadelphians gathered peacefully to dance, bowl and enjoy young adulthood. This safe-space event was attended by not only these young Philadelphians and their parents but also community members, the Mayor and other city officials. Having overseen this event from start to finish I can attest that a safe space was indeed provided.
“The Youth Commission will continue to work with the Mayor’s office, community leaders and our city’s youth to create positive activities for young Philadelphians because we believe that they provide constructive alternatives to the violence that is plaguing our city’s youth, and frankly they deserve it as many of them represent all that is right with our city,” Harris said.
Based on the success of last night’s bowling party, Mayor Nutter said the City will consider a range of events, from simultaneous bowling parties across the City, teen dances and other events. “We have 20 of our recreation centers with extended hours and we’re looking at other venues for young people and their parents to have good, clean fun,” Mayor Nutter said.
He also called upon the business community to step up and help the City create more positive venues for young people.
“We really do need additional support. Businesses have employees who might want to volunteer on a Friday or Saturday night or any other time. We certainly need corporate financial support as we look to expand programming and perhaps most importantly, really my number one request, I’m asking our corporate partners to take a second look at opportunities for bright young people who are trying to get on with their future. We need more after-school job opportunities and full-time positions in the summer. This is particularly critical as federal funding is cut back,” he said.