Chicago mayor responds to proposed curfew to deter teen chaos

Mayor Brandon Johnson is criticizing a new proposal to impose an 8 p.m. curfew on unaccompanied minors downtown. 

The measure was introduced Wednesday at City Council in response to a rash of recent crime around Streeterville.

Second Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins said police in his district asked him for an 8 p.m. curfew for unaccompanied young people. 

He believes a vicious attack in Streeterville last week might have been avoided had the curfew been in place.

"Had they had the ability to break this crowd up, they knew they were underage, they could have prevented that attack that caused great bodily harm to that young couple," Hopkins said.

Hopkins introduced the 8 p.m. curfew ordinance at the City Council meeting. Mayor Johnson argued that an ordinance like this would be too confusing to enforce.

"If a young person has to be accompanied by an adult, what is the definition of an adult? Is it an 18-year-old, a 21-year-old?" Johnson asked. "These are reasonable questions. And if a child is downtown at 8:01 with an 18-year-old or 19-year-old friend, does that count as the accompaniment?"

In 2022, former Mayor Lori Lightfoot instituted a 6 p.m. curfew for unaccompanied minors at Millennium Park from Thursday to Sunday. It’s unclear how or if the curfew has been enforced.

Hopkins said police would not have the authority to arrest minors but to take them to the nearest police station and call for an adult to pick them up. He believes the ordinance would prevent mass gatherings of young people at public places late at night.

"The groups are gathering earlier. They’re gathering on the beach," Hopkins said. "The beach closes at 11 p.m., the curfew kicks in at 10 p.m., so an ordinance like this can remove the young people a little earlier and get them safely home."

Alderman Hopkins faces an uphill battle to pass the ordinance. However, he references the ShotSpotter vote, where Mayor Johnson and his allies were defeated by alderpeople who wanted to keep ShotSpotter. 

Hopkins believes this vote might follow similar lines. Johnson believes the majority of City Council members will reject the measure.

"I understand what Alderman Hopkins' concerns are, I have them as well," Johnson said. "But it’s important whatever we do as a city is effective, it works, we can implement it, and it’s constitutional."