by Romanalyn Inocencio
It’s late at night. I’m stumbling to the bus stop after an exhausting basketball practice with my fellow Lady Warriors. My feet ache, arms pulsate, and hunger sets in, making my guts screech. I need to eat. If I catch the bus on time, I might make it to Taco Bell before it closes. But will I be able to make it back home?
The public relations stunt supported by Mayor Jean Quan and Police Chief Howard Jordan would make THAT impossible. And that’s why the youth curfew introduced last year (but not yet approved) would be a bad idea.
I don’t think the police will punish teenagers who live in the Oakland hills–I don’t even think they will stop them. They will only stop teens in areas like West, East, and even North Oakland. Due to the stereotype of being black or brown–any color actually–and being after hours, that person is automatically viewed as a criminal. But not the puny, sheltered white kid from the hills coming home from playing the violin with the Oakland Youth Orchestra. He’s safe from being searched or stopped.
What if I, a varsity basketball player with a 3.5GPA, ready to graduate, have a late game and I need to walk home? Is the police going to arrest me for coming from a game? They might, when they see me walking down the street with a bag strapped across my shoulders and baggy shorts.
If the purpose of this curfew is to reduce crime rates among youth, then adults should be targeted as well. Adults are the master minds in all these situations when they supply teenagers with weapons and often with dope.
We don’t have enough police to patrol teenagers in case of a curfew and who will keep the center (where they are held) open all night? I don’t think Oakland has enough money for that, and if we do, then it should be used for something that won’t criminalize innocent teens who make their way home after hours.
The curfew will corral teens and cage them inside their homes. Besides it’s not like criminals would follow the law and stay indoors after hours and become respectable citizens. They will just become more sneaky and move their business indoors.
I think police should focus on making sure that teens are not skipping class during the day and making sure they are where they need to be. Day time is not much different from the night. Fights, shootings, and murders (many of the 100-plus in Oakland) occur during daylight. Let’s focus on keeping our schools safe, first.