Students Rally Online Against Curfew
Facebook campaign targets July 26 County Council hearing; opponents will wear purple at Harry Potter premiere.
Hundreds of high school students—most of them not yet old enough to vote—are mounting a Facebook campaign against Montgomery County’s proposed youth curfew.
Within hours of County Executive Isiah Leggett's proposal on Tuesday—which would ban anyone under 18 from public places after 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends—former Richard Montgomery High School student Abigail Burman launched “Stand Up to the MoCo Youth Curfew!,” a Facebook event calling on teens to converge on a County Council hearing set for July 26.
“The idea behind the curfew is a laudable one in that we all want to keep our kids safe,” said Alan Xie, a co-organizer of the Facebook rally and the Board of Education's student member. “In reality some studies have shown that curfews have no correlation to the number of crimes committed. Essentially we would be restricting our kids from doing what they want because a minority of the demographic has committed crime.
By 5 p.m. Thursday, the page had drawn nearly 2,000 supporters, many of whom voiced their opinion both for and against the curfew.
“Not all of us are criminals or have any bad intentions,” one girl wrote on the page. “It's not fair to punish us all. And yes there are fun, legal, safe activities us kids like to do when it's dark.”
While many comments railed against the curfew, others supported it as long as it incorporates a few changes before enacted.
“I agree with the idea of the curfew, but I think there should be restrictions like during summer allow one extra hour,” a recent Sherwood High School graduate wrote.
Curfew opponents will also make their presence felt Thursday night, dressing in purple among the hordes of Dumbledores and Hermione Grangers lined up for the final Harry Potter’s midnight premiere -- an event from which they would be barred if the curfew were in effect.
“We wanted some format to show we were all unified against this curfew. We really wanted to show that we have so many kids who are well-educated that would be adversely affected," Xie said.
Kevin Cheng, a senior at Walt Whitman High School, is among those who oppose the proposal.
“I think the curfew has the potential to cause a wide range of adverse effects, while not solving for the problems named in the bill,” Cheng said. “Businesses in the area lose out on much-needed revenue from minors during those hours.”
The National Youth Rights Association, which works with students who face government-enforced curfews, has been helping Burman and the Facebook event organizers prepare for the July 26 hearing.
“The fact is that curfews don’t work and they’ve never been proven to work,” said Dave Moss, NYRA’s director of development organization. “Police officers will say it’s another tool in their toolbox, but dozens of studies prove it’s a useless tool.”
Using a Google document posted on the event, Xie wrote a two-page form letter to the County Council, which students can modify. Xie has also encouraged students to send it directly to their representative on the Council.
“It’s so much more than a group of kids complaining about the curfew,” Xie said. “It’s a group of kids organizing themselves to do something about it."
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Abigail Burman is a former Richard Montgomery student. She is a rising senior at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.