Curfew for minors begins tonight — the ways the IC Police will abuse it.

  1. Selective enforcement.  White kids dressed to blend in? No problem. Black & Hispanic kids? OPEN SEASON!
  2. License to roust ANYONE in a parked car, to check their age.
  3. Use age checks to finagle probable cause for searches.
  4. With the curfew as a pretext, police can accost anyone for ‘standing around in public.’  From there, anything is possible — public intoxication charges, PAULA charges, ‘Interfering With Official Acts’ charges, ‘Resisting Arrest’ charges.
  5. Use age checks as pretext to pull ANYONE over.  Then, see point 3 above.

So before tonight, if you were in public and minding your own business, the police had to leave you alone.  Now it’s open season on everyone.  After all, when it’s dark, how can you tell someone’s age without asking for ID?  Keep in mind too that thanks to Republican appointments to the US Supreme Court, there really is no effective protection against unreasonable search and seizure.  The police can claim they ‘smelled something’ or that you ‘acted in a suspicious manner.’  Once they actually interact with you, they can demand to search you.  If you refuse? There goes the rest of your evening — you’ll be standing around, waiting for the drug-sniffing dogs.

Of course, a large percentage of Iowa City Police arrests end up leading to no prosecution or conviction.  Spending a night in jail and paying hundreds or thousands of dollars to make the bogus charges away? Well that’s just your damage.  The police wouldn’t have bothered you in the first place if you weren’t doing anything wrong.  Oh wait — now just seeming to be under 18 after dark is suspicious!

This is a stupid law that should never have been enacted.  It reflects the City Council caving to pressure from squeaky wheel citizens who feel threatened by young people 0f color loitering.  Prior to this law the police had complete authority to handle young people — if they were actually doing something illegal.  Now, youth is a crime.