Columbia passes emergency curfew for Five Points

Carter Strange at Tuesday's press conference. / Fraendy Clervaud

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Columbia City Council voted unanimously Tuesday morning to enforce an emergency curfew for Five Points.

The 7-0 vote comes after last week's brutal beating of a teen in Columbia's entertainment district.

The curfew will be in effect from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. for those 16 and younger and apply to Five Points, Maxcy Gregg Park, and Martin Luther King Jr. Park. Click here for a detailed map.

Since the ordinance is an emergency law, it only needed to be approved on one council vote, and will expire after 65 days. It will be enforced starting immediately.

Read the full emergency ordinance by clicking here.

City officials held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to announce the curfew.

Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott says more officers will be positioned in the Five Points area to enforce the new rule.

"We don't need one more victim, such as Carter," Scott said. "We must stop. Enough is enough. Again, this is not targeted to anyone. This is a safety measure..."

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Mayor Steve Benjamin, members of city council and business owners were also on hand for the announcement.

Benjamin says the curfew isn't a complete fix, but it's a start.

"We need people to understand that this is not a solution. This is not an end game...," Benjamin explained. "It's a piece of the puzzle."

After the emergency ordinance expires at the end of August the city will evaluate it's effectiveness and decide whether to continue and expand the plan.

Because of the new curfew, parks and recreation officials moved up the end time of the Prime Time in the Park event on Fridays at Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

The late night teen programs at Greenview and Hyatt Parks are not impacted.

Officials say Carter Strange was attacked by several teens in a parking lot in the 1900 block of Blossom Street Monday June 20.

Nineteen-year-old Tyheem Henrey and six teens ranging in age from 13-16 are charged in the attack.

Carter Strange and his family appeared Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show, and the teen said he doesn't think about forgiving his attackers because he doesn't want to think about them at all.

The City of Columbia Police Department will not tolerate violent behavior," said Chief Scott. "This teenager was minding his own business, trying to make his curfew when he was brutally attacked and robbed.

Last week, Scott indicated the curfew proposal is part of a larger issue.

"As it stands right now - whether we have a curfew or not - there's no reason why a 14, 15, and 16 year old should be out in a hospitality area - in Five Points, in the Vista, anywhere - unsupervised," Scott stated.

Do you think there is a juvenile crime problem in Columbia worth taking action on a teen curfew? Vote in our poll and leave your comments below.