Prince George’s curfew puts branches of government at odds

Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) has asked the Maryland State Board of Education to look into ethics allegations that have troubled the county school board. File photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Prince George’s County Angela Alsobrooks (D) held a Labor Day press conference to announce a controversial decision to implement a youth curfew that begins Friday.

Alsobrooks, a native of Prince George, which is Maryland’s second-largest jurisdiction, posted several statements this week on Twitter explaining his reasoning.

“While some disagree with a 30-day curfew, I am responding to residents of Prince George’s County who have asked what more can be done to protect their children,” she said. . “The residents of our community deserve both freedom and justice…”

State law allows local authorities to manage public safety issues.

In addition, a local self-government charter authorizes county local authorities.

“Maryland law quite clearly grants its self-governing counties, including Prince George’s County, a great deal of deference and authority to manage local affairs, including specifically the maintenance of county health and welfare. That’s the county’s job,” Michael Sanderson, executive director of the Maryland Association of Counties, said in an email Thursday.

Also on Thursday, Alsobrooks announced a youth leadership institute for teens ages 14-17 in grades 9-11.

Young people applying for the Alsobrooks Youth Leadership Institute must attend seven of nine general meetings, three of five community events and achieve a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5.

Curfew Summary

Meanwhile, the county curfew requires youth 17 and under to be off the streets between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:59 p.m. and 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Exceptions will include young people with an adult, coming from a job or other circumstances.

Parents and guardians will first receive a warning. If a teenager is caught without a valid reason, a parent will be fined $50. A second fine increases to $100 and subsequent violations to $250.

The curfew will be in effect for 30 days, which Alsobrooks called a “cooling off period”.

The curfew begins the same weekend as the Upper Marlboro County Fair, which has not been held in person for two years.

County Executive and Prince George’s County Police Chief Malik Aziz summarized some statistics in support of the curfew decision, noting that two 15-year-old boys were shot dead at a convenience store on Saturday. . Police say one of the teenagers, De’Andre Johnson, of neighboring Washington DC, died of his injuries.

August was the deadliest month in county history with 24 homicides.

“This figure is simply unacceptable.” Aziz said Monday during a press conference with Alsobrooks, several county council members and police supervisors.

Aziz said 438 minors have been arrested in Prince George so far this year, more than double last year’s total.

Carjackings remain the most common serious offense for minors, he said. Eighty-four arrests of minors for carjacking have been made in the county so far this year. Aziz said about 15 of those minors had previously been arrested for possessing firearms, and three of them had been arrested for carrying guns four times.

County Council Chairman Calvin Hawkins (D) made strong statements for members of the judiciary.

“To some of you judges who are letting these individuals out,” he said. “You’re going to have to deal with this county council because we don’t want you presiding over these kinds of cases that put perpetrators on the street and increase crime in our community.”

“A publicity stunt”

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy (D) held a virtual press briefing on Tuesday to address the curfew and rising violence in the county.

Braveboy, who was not invited to Monday’s press briefing with Alsobrooks, said county leaders should meet in a manner similar to what former County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) Had them do it over 10 years ago.

“Leadership isn’t about pointing fingers,” said Braveboy, also from the county. “Leadership is about how we work with everyone to improve the system.”

Local activist Qiana Johnson, who rarely agrees with Braveboy, supports the state’s attorney on this issue.

Johnson, executive director of Life After Release, which helps formerly and currently incarcerated people with a variety of services, said the curfew gives police freedom to harm young black people.

“[Alsobrooks] give the brutal and racist police department a pass or a call to get out into the community and be a thug,” Johnson said Thursday. “She puts young people at risk with this. This is a publicity stunt. This will in no way reduce the violence. »

The Public Defenders Offices of Maryland and Prince George’s County issued a joint statement Wednesday opposing the curfew.

“The children of Prince George’s County do not need any further arrests or incarcerations that would result from a curfew,” said Melissa Pryce, the district’s public defender. “Our communities deserve a response that reflects data and research, none of which suggests that punishing children for being out late at night is effective.”

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