Columbia curfew proposal faces opposition

Columbia, SC - A proposed curfew that would apply to teens 17 and under and bar them from being on the streets after 11 pm has cleared one hurdle, but is already facing another before a second reading by Columbia city council.

The South Carolina branch of the American Civil Liberties Union calls the proposed curfew unnecessary and unconstitutional.

In a three page letter to Columbia city attorney Ken Gaines, the ACLU contends the proposal "impinges upon the rights of children and their parents. Sometimes the government may usurp parents' fundamental right to raise children as they see fit."

On Wednesday, city council gave initial approval to the measure. The proposed ordinance is part of a plan aimed at cutting down on crime in the city's entertainment distircts, primarily Five Points, where there have been three shooting incidents since last spring.

The curfew proposal comes partly in response to complaints about teen violence that some argue is linked to youth gangs in the Five Points area.

The ordinance still faces a second vote before it's final. There are exceptions to the proposal. College students17 or under with valid student ID would be exempt as well as high school students participating in extracurricular activities.

During Wednesday's council meeting the city attorney told council he would like to further explore the measure behind closed doors.

The ACLU argues "this curfew is likely to lead to selective enforcement, profiling and distrust of police by young people."

At this point the ACLU has not threatened a lawsuit.