Ville Platte- The Ville Platte City Council, Tuesday, after meeting behind closed doors with their legal advisor to discuss a pending lawsuit by the A.C.L.U. on the city’s walking curfew ordinance, voted to amend the language of the ordinance in hopes it meets constitutional muster.
Some 28 residents addressed the city council during the public comment period over the issue of the city’s walking curfew ordinance. The only person who spoke in favor of doing away with it was Arthur Sampson, President of the Evangeline Chapter of NAACP. “The walking curfew violates our basic constitutional rights. If the city wants to do something, get with business and industry and help find our young people jobs. Remember this is America, not Iran.”
Some of those who addressed the mayor and council included: Rev. Eradley Ben who announced that his entire church association, the 3000 member Eastern Seventh District Baptist Association were in favor of keeping the walking curfew intact.
P.L. Fontenot said a recent newspaper survey showed that 90 percent of the respondents were in favor of keeping the curfew. “The majority rules in this country. If this ordinance prevents one death , it would be worth it. Remember it is the ACLU that supported removing prayer out of our classrooms.”
Camille Fontenot, Executive Director of the Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce said many cities in the country that have implemented curfews have shown a dramatic drop in crime, vandalism and drug dealing.
Andy Poche said in comment to Sampson’s remarks about more jobs, “When crime goes down, there will be more businesses and industry coming in to bring more employment.”
Alfred Thomas commented “I feel it is safe to say these people who are walking at 1 or 2 in the morning are not carrying bibles, going to prayer meetings or singing Amazing Grace. Let’s keep this walking curfew going.”
Prior to the city council executive session, Councilman Freddie Jack said it was never his intention to remove t he entire curfew but have it only only address the state wide curfew to keep juveniles, age 17 and under and to once again permit adults to be allowed to walk at night.
After the executive session, the city council voted to call a public hearing on November at 4:45pm to get public comment on revising the walking curfew ordinance. City Attorney Eric LaFleur said the new language will “tighten up” and “address the constitutional concerns” in the ACLU lawsuit.
The new language provides exceptions that include:” to those individuals acting in an emergency situation, standing in the parking lot of a supervised and open business, exercising their constitutional right to commute to or from work or exercising their First Amendment rights such as commuting to or from religious gatherings, public speeches and legally permitted assembly.”
The walking curfew remains in effect immediately for those minors under the age of 17 between 10:00pm and 5;00am Sunday through Thursday and 12 midnight to 5;00am Friday and Saturday nights.
Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine thanked the overflow crowd of people who attended the meeting and expressed their concerns. “Our number one priority is to protect the public safety of our citizens and we will continue to do everything in our power to do so. “