West Virginia teens, ACLU contest city’s curfew

Thursday, March 26, 1998

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Three teen-agers, a parent and the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union are suing the city in an effort to stop a new curfew from taking effect.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court, claims the curfew is unfair to teen-agers and parents. The curfew, which is set to begin April 1, would ban minors from being on the street between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and between midnight and 6 a.m. on weekends.

Those guidelines would make it illegal for teens to participate in otherwise legal activities, including nighttime movies or concerts, said Hilary Chiz, executive director of the ACLU’s state chapter.

“We think this curfew will unnecessarily intrude on the fundamental right of a parent to raise a child. And it is an unnecessary incursion irrespective of a parent’s wishes,” Chiz said.

Charleston Police Chief Fred Marshall said Wednesday he is disappointed the lawsuit was filed.

“I think they should have given us a chance to see how we’re going to enforce it before trying to stop it or file an injunction,” he said.

The ban would exclude married teen-agers, teen-agers who are “exercising legitimate First Amendment activities,” or those traveling to or from work, but police would be able to pick up anyone they suspected of violating the curfew, even if they say they are excluded.

George Washington High School students Katelyn Kimmons, Anna Sale and Lealah Pollock also are challenging the ordinance, along with Pollock’s mother, Carol Freas.

The students say it is unfair that they could be picked up when coming home from work or other nighttime events.

Freas said she doesn’t want the government interfering with disciplining her four children. The ordinance states that parents whose children violate the curfew can be prosecuted.

“That’s a parent’s responsibility and not a legal matter as far as I’m concerned,” Freas said. “I’m the one who knows my child best.”