The lawsuit was filed by a nonprofit organization that encourages children to go “cop watching” on Halloween.
A nonprofit youth organization has filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago, hoping that a court will grant minors relief from the city’s Halloween curfew.
According to The Chicago Tribune, the city’s curfew prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from being on the streets after 10 o’clock at night.
The organization behind the lawsuit—Good Kids Mad City—holds an annual event in Hyde Park, where youth are encouraged to observe police activity. The event’s goal is to de-escalate and discourage inappropriate law enforcement conduct.
Good Kids Mad City now claims that it fears that Chicago police officers might harass and arrest its members for participating in the Hyde Park event.
The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction preventing law enforcement from enforcing the curfew against activists and other persons engaging in so-called “nontraditional First Amendment activities.”
When asked about the lawsuit at a press conference, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that, while her office does not typically comment on pending litigation, she believes that the city’s curfew ordinance may provide some leeway for organizations like Good Kids Mad City.
“But if you read the ordinance, there’s plenty of opportunity in the ordinance itself for them to do exactly what they’re saying they want to do,” Lightfoot told reporters. “[…] there’s nothing that prevents people who are active and engaged, going to events, staffing events, from being out in the city.”
“The curfew ordinance doesn’t stop that,” Lightfoot said.
The ordinance, writes the Chicago Tribune¸ specifies that the curfew is not applicable to youth who are participating in or returning home from ticketed or sponsored events.
However, children who are stopped by law enforcement after 10pm should have evidence of their attendance at such an event.
Nevertheless, Good Kids Mad City wants the court to inform the Chicago Police Department that officers are prohibiting from enforcing the city’s curfew against “cop watching” youths.
In its lawsuit, the organization stated that its peacekeeping and police observation activities typically occur during curfew hours, since that is when its leadership and members believe that they are most likely to make a positive impact.
“This is particularly true on Halloween, when both young people and police are particularly active after the curfew hours,” the lawsuit states. “Because [Good Kids Mad City’s] cop watching and peacekeeping activities must occur during curfew hours, there are not alternative channels for this expression.”
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said that the department plans to collaborate with more groups and municipal agencies this Halloween and will post more officers across all of the city’s neighborhoods and throughout its public transportation system.
The youth curfew, Brown said, will not change how the Chicago Police Department conducts its patrols over the holiday.
“We want everyone to have fun,” Brown said. “We want you to enjoy being out, but we also want you to be safe.”