Outside City Hall Today, An Afterschool Civics Lesson from Daytime Curfew Opponents

With protest signs, stuffed animals and matching T-shirts, about 40 people -- half of them kids -- gathered outside Dallas City Hall this afternoon to shout down the daytime curfew proposed as a way to keep kids off the street during school hours.

The ACLU and Citizens Against the Dallas Daytime Curfew, whose advocacy and T-shirts sales we've covered previously, held the rally to drum up opposition to the curfew before the Dallas City Council's public hearing on it Wednesday morning.

Tracey Hayes with the ACLU of Texas said even without the curfew, Dallas police already have plenty of tools to enforce truancy laws. "The only thing this ordinance does is create a new way to give a child, a parent or a business owner a Class C misdemeanor," she said.

With nearly 400 members on their Facebook group, CADDC has done some serious organizing in the few months it's been around. The group handed out flyers pointing to studies showing that daytime curfews don't really prevent crime, and that most juvenile crimes happen after school hours anyway.

Doreen Fisher, a mother of two and a CADDC organizer, said rather than create a new way to charge kids with a crime, she'd rather the city fight truancy by better funding programs that already exist, like Dallas Challenge.

Fisher and Karen Eubanks, another CADDC organizer, said they've repeatedly heard Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert refer to the curfew as "a done deal" in town hall meetings, including his education jam session last month at Lang Elementary School. "I think their intentions are good, but they're not thought out," Eubanks said. "When you have an issue that affects every facet of a community, you ought to put it to a vote."

The city council is scheduled to vote on the curfew ordinance next month.

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