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Albany events curfew demands parental involvement

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

Freedom? Oh, freedom, that's just some people talking.

-- The Eagles

Albany City Manager James Taylor is in the middle of one of those damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't scenarios that tend to break lesser men.

After mostly unsupervised teenagers ran wild at recent community Christmas and Fourth of July events downtown, many in the city shouted that they'd reached their "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" breaking point. Looking for somewhere or someone at whom they could direct their anger, the citizens demanded city officials take drastic action.

Taylor heard the cry.

Tuesday morning, the city manager unveiled a plan that can only be described as drastic: A 6 p.m. curfew on days of special downtown events that would require anyone under the age of 21 to be in the presence of a parent or adult until 6 the next morning. Those who do not have ID proof of age would be, under an ordinance proposed by Taylor and being considered by the Albany City Commission, subject to being taken into police custody and held until a parent or adult comes to secure their release.

Both the under-21 detainee and his or her parents could be subject to charges.

Questioned about the severity of the curfew, Taylor said, "Do I think this proposal is the answer to all our problems? No, I'd be idiotic to think that. This is one option. One of the other options is to do nothing, and I refuse to do that."

Ward 3 Commissioner Christopher Pike was critical of the proposal.

"What we'd be doing is, essentially, turning our police force into a babysitting service," he said. "The problem here is our inability to manage a crowd, not the crowd itself. If we're going to do large-scale events, we've got to figure out how to manage crowds."

Taylor said the city plans to eventually turn land previously used for the county-run First Tee program into an event venue that would pave the way for more easily contained, and thus more easily patrolled and controlled, events. Until then, he said, he proposed the aggressive plan used successfully by police in cities like Detroit.

When some suggested the strict curfew would curtail the number attending events downtown, Taylor said that's a trade-off he's OK with.

"Decline in attendance is a problem I'm willing to accept," he said. "My job is to protect the citizens (who attend such events) who are well-behaved."

Pike's and Ward 2 Commissioner Ivey Hines' -- who noted, "What you're saying is that no college students are welcome at our events. That seems strenuous to me from a parent's perspective." -- well-taken and certainly viable objections notwithstanding, the question now becomes how the community will react to Taylor's proposed special events ordinance.

If local parents are indeed charged with making sure that their children -- including 18-, 19- and 20-year-old college-age young men and women -- are in compliance with the new law, even to the point of having to be there with them, are they going to be willing to do their part? Or are some of those same ones who were crying loudest about the city's lost control during community events going to be as outspoken when they realize they now have a part in this?

Personally, I'm frightened at the "Big Brother" implications this heightened curfew suggests. Also, as Pike said, "I know when I was 17 or 18, I didn't want to hang around with my parents during an event like Mardi Gras."

But more than that, I'm saddened that our city has devolved to the point that officials -- those who refuse to give in to the few who would ruin community events for everyone -- feel it necessary to take such measures. My distaste, though, does not erase reality.

And the reality is, parents in the community have insisted that city officials do something to protect them from the young people those same parents are supposed to be raising. It'll be interesting to see if they're as prepared to do their part as they were to complain.

Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcher@albanyherald.com.

Comments

LoneCycler 1 year, 7 months ago

The proposed curfew is a lawsuit waiting to happen. You can’t restrict 18 year olds from attending a public event like the 4th of July celebration at Riverfront Park. Mr. Fletcher only supports the idea because his buddy, that Georgia Throwdown guy, what’s his name, sugar daddy or something like that, is worried about his event being ruined too. So Mr. Fletcher drags out the excuse that “parents in the community have insisted’ this and the other thing. Transparent media pandering is what this article is. I guess we’ll have to wait to see what the Mayor thinks about it, unless she’s too busy scheming how to hand WG&L over to Tommie Postell to weigh in on the plan.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 7 months ago

I expect that you will not have the same "element" present for a PAY event like the Throwdown.

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RedEric 1 year, 7 months ago

The Georgia throw down will have a metal detector and an industrial stapler to hold pants up. You have to go through a gate for the throw down so that increases your control. You can't do that at City events and so many people in Albany are nocturnal. Thank you Carlton for the loan of the detector and stapler.

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gotanyfacts 1 year, 7 months ago

Apply the curfew to anyone under 45. You'll be on the same legal ground. Try using the parent responsibility argument when trying to get information regarding your 18 year old college student!

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FryarTuk 1 year, 7 months ago

I don't know the specifics but James Taylor should be commended for working for a solution to the mayhem in downtown Albany. Another solution would be just to disallow events after dark.

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Tonto 1 year, 7 months ago

While I can see the problem facing city officials: are you kiddiing me? You can enlist in the service at 18 without your parents permission, go to boot camp, get assigned overseas, etc. You can get married well before 21 and have babies., what about those folks? Do they need grandma to come with them? Does having a spouse exempt you from the proposed ban? You can move away from home and attend college before age 21, out on your own..get a note from mommy in New York maybe to allow you to attend? You go to prison over 18, without Mommy. Perhaps late night movies should be added to the under 21 list.

The criminal element is the problem, not carving out an age bracket and thrusting it on them. Try saying no one under the age of 18 (minors) can come without a parent and see how that works; it is at least more defensable in a rational argument. Over 18 is an adult and should be treated as one.

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Roundman 1 year, 7 months ago

We can't do it by saying "PLEASE" We must have a secure place to hold'em, enough police to arrest & load them in buses & hauled to the secured place like the dumb asses they are & held & bookem as you get the time--first control & protect the crowd - just keep busting heads until you get the hell raisers under control. The Marines do it everyday-all over the world - yes it can be done -MEN can do it as they don't say "PLEASE"- The people are tired of excuses. They may have the right to be out late - but we have the right to make sure they are not taking away our rights- They can't have it both ways-- But YES MEN can handle crowd control!!

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albanyherald1 1 year, 7 months ago

I applaud Mr. Taylor for at least trying to come up with a solution. But we can't make this a "punish them all for the few who screwed it up" situation. I am the parent of three children, ages 21, 18 and 11. My 21 and 18 year old (the 11 year old doesnt count in this situation as she is with me always) are well behaved young adults. The 21 year old is married and has a child. With this solution they would not be able to be out past 6:00, well before dusk, unless I changed MY plans and went to an event downtown that I necessarily don't want to attend, just to babysit them. Yet everyday of their lives, they do things without my supervision. They work, go to school, go to the mall, go to Target/Walmart, go to the movies, and the list goes on and on. This just makes no sense. And what about college students whose parents live out of state? I say 16 and under need adult supervision, but it should stop there. Keep trying, Mr. Taylor. You are on the right track, but we now need plan B.

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