Local News

Oxford Curfew Delayed Because of Fear of Discrimination

Posted August 13, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— A vote on a teenage curfew in Oxford was put off by town commissioners until October because some residents think the proposal would cause discrimination.

Oxford residents want crime under control in their community, and they think a teenage curfew would help. Police and several community watch groups support the idea, but some think African-American teens would be discriminated against.

The curfew would keep teens age 15 and younger off the streets after midnight on weekends and 11 p.m. on weekdays. The police department said it's designed to help parents keep good kids out of trouble and bad kids from starting more. But not everyone is a fan.

"You know, on paper, it looks good, but the application is where we feel the problem would come in,"

Joyner said police would unfairly target black teenagers. He said Oxford police have shown racist tendencies in the past and believes their enforcement of a curfew would continue the trend.

"The police force might not have the sensitivity to apply it evenly,"

Police Chief Roger Paul denied his officers are racist in any way. At its monthly meeting, town commissioners put off a possible vote on the issue until October and asked the town's attorney to study the legalities of a curfew in the meantime. That despite outgoing commissioner Carolyn Hardy's call for an immediate vote.

"We are here to help people make our community better, and this is one way I think we can do it,"

A survey of town residents found most people support the curfew, both black and white. All sides agreed the idea needs more study before a decision is made. Joyner says finding more things for kids to do would go much farther than clearing the streets.

"We have no skating rings, no bowling alleys, no movies no, you know, good recreation centers,"

And no quick solution to the question.

Under the proposed rules, police would call the parents of first-time curfew violators. Parents of repeat offenders would get a $500 fine and possibly six months in jail.