*Youth PROTEST curfew: homeless teens outlawed in Portland,

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Mon, 5 Apr 1999 23:36:05 -0700 (PDT)

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FWD  The Oregonian - Sunday March 21, 1999


     Youths objecting to the laws in Portland and other cities say the
     regulations violate their rights and infringe on families

     By Gillian Gaynair of The Oregonian staff

Store owners peered through their windows, and shoppers stopped in their
tracks Saturday afternoon, as teen-age protests echoed through downtown

"What do we want?" 18-year-old Tifnee Smith yelled into a bullhorn.

"Liberation!" about 50 followers answered as they toted protest signs near
the corner of Southwest Broadway and Washington Street.

Urging that curfew laws be repealed, the young people marched and chanted
from the North Park Blocks through downtown to Saturday Market. They called
curfews oppressive and said they violate several of their constitutional
rights as well as strip families of their authority.

At midnight, in defiance of Portland's curfew, about 60 young people
gathered near Pioneer Courthouse Square for a noisy, festive demonstration.

Portland police dispatched several squad cars plus a few officers on
horseback to the scene, but they looked on from a distance, saying that
they wouldn't arrest any of the protesters for curfew violation.

A graduate of Beaverton's Arts & Communication Magnet High School, Smith
helped organize similar events in other cities Saturday via the Internet,
reportedly in Houston; San Diego; Sacramento, Calif.; New York; Tampa,
Fla.; Washington, D.C.; and Marietta, Ga. The loosely organized group
called Saturday the "first annual National Day of Action Against Curfew."

"We want the city of Portland to know that kids can stand up for their
rights," Smith said. The Portland group of activists doesn't have a name,
she said, but is working out of the offices of the Activist Resource

Although curfews vary by city, Portland youths 14 to 18 years old cannot be
on the streets from 10:15 p.m. to 6 a.m. on school nights. When school's
out -- as it is for spring break this week -- the curfew is midnight.

For those younger than 14, curfew is from 9:15 p.m. to 6 a.m. on a school
night and 10:15 p.m. on a nonschool night.

Such curfews have been repealed in some Northwest cities, including
Bellingham and Camas, Wash., where a court found that the laws violated
youths' fundamental freedoms of movement and expression and that juveniles
engaging in innocent activities outnumbered those doing anything illegal.

Smith and other teens marching Saturday said they had been stopped by
police, after curfew, for working late, walking with friends or being
outside because they had nowhere else to go.

Robbie Marler, 18, said he's been living on the streets since he was a boy,
moving around from California to Montana and now Oregon. He said he
remembers one night, after curfew, when a police officer approached him
near the Burnside Bridge and told him to go home.

"I ain't got no home, man," he said he told the officer.

Smith said the law doesn't take into consideration youths such as Marler,
whom adults should be helping, not harassing.

That's not the case, insists Sgt. Cheryl Kanzler, a Portland Police Bureau
spokeswoman. She said police who bring in homeless youths for violating
curfew try to help them find care and shelter.

In general, "there are families out there that don't pay attention to what
their kids are doing," Kanzler said. "Many times they tell their parents
one thing and go out and do another. We never get complaints from parents
about the curfew law."

Marching behind the throng of teen-agers Saturday were two mothers, one of
them Smith's, in support of repealing the law.

Both said teens have many legitimate reasons for being out past curfew,
such as going to see a Trail Blazers game in Portland and then taking light
rail back to Washington County.

As parents, Laurie Smith of Beaverton and Lorri Cartier of Hillsboro think
families should set young people's boundaries.

Cartier said she always asks her four girls details of their evening plans
and how late they could be out.

"I do need to know all those things," she said, "but it's not up to the
government to place restrictions on it."

Richard Read of The Oregonian staff contributed to this report.


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