Curfew for minors amended in Roanoke through summer

Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 5:39 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Roanoke City Council has approved amending the city’s curfew for minors until the end of the summer, coming after a 6-1 vote in the 2 p.m. session of Monday’s meeting.

“Let’s do something. Let’s do something and hope and pray that these things will help us,” said Mayor Sherman Lea.

For months, Roanoke City Council has discussed amending the current city curfew for kids 16 and younger, specifically coming after Mayor Lea spoke about the number of kids who have been hurt by gunfire this year.

“The focus is to keep them safe and I’ve got to do everything I can. And some of it may not be popular, but in this position, I mean, you got to make those decisions,” said Lea.

For teens 14-16 years old, the curfew is 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday to Thursday, and midnight to 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday. For children 13 and under, the curfew is 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

The rule reads, “ shall be unlawful... to loiter, idle, wander, stroll or play in or upon any public street, highway, alley, sidewalk, park, playground, other public place of upon any vacant lot or other place unsupervised by an adult having lawful authority to be at such place” during the times given.

Exceptions include minors accompanied by parents or in the company of someone entrusted by parent or guardian, minors on emergency errands or legitimate business directed by parent or guardian, any minor who has parental permission to attend (or travel to or from) an activity sponsored by the city, public school, licensed private school or church, any employed minor at (or on the way to or from) work, or a minor in a motor vehicle traveling through the city with parental permission.

“A lot of people heard lots of discussions and talk about what we’re going to do. But let’s do it. And I think now’s the time to do it, when school’s out. And it’s only for a couple of months,” said Lea.

The ordinance wasn’t originally on the afternoon agenda, but knowing this has been discussed countless times and school is almost out for the summer, City Council voted to add it and then vote on it.

“What especially concerned me was the way in which we conducted public business. We considered an ordinance of which was not placed on the agenda and the language was not shared with the public in any capacity beforehand. I understand we’ve been discussing curfew for the past few months, but they didn’t know what that looked like, and if they had input on exactly what we were considering they may say change the age, change the time,” said council member Luke Priddy.

Priddy felt the ordinance should be voted on at a second reading at the next council meeting, giving the public a chance to see it and respond. But the majority of council members feel passing it on Monday was the right decision.

“It had meant to be there, I think there was just some discussion and sometimes that happens. So, we did what you can legally do is include it on the agenda as you go through the proper steps,” said Lea.

“We have seen this ordinance before with the exception of the clause to include the sunset, we have had two public hearings and we have had numerous discussions among this council about the curfew. So none of this is foreign and it’s not like we’re ramming anything down anybody’s throat,” said council member Trish White-Boyd.

Priddy doesn’t support a curfew and shared what he saw council do with the vote at this meeting was concerning.

“If council is willing to conduct business this way on this matter, it just makes me concerned about other issues that may come up with which the public will have no notice before a vote is taken,” said Priddy.

The ordinance will run until August 31 and you can find pictures of it below:

Roanoke City Council's ordinance amending the current curfew.
Roanoke City Council's ordinance amending the current curfew.(Will Thomas)
Roanoke City Council's ordinance amending youth curfew.
Roanoke City Council's ordinance amending youth curfew.(Will Thomas)