Little Rock city board tightens curfew for minors in entertainment districts and nearby parks

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Little Rock board members approved an ordinance in a voice vote Tuesday that tightens curfews for minors in recreational areas and adjacent city parks.

The new curfew for minors in these areas starts at 9 p.m. Currently, the city’s general curfew for minors is 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and midnight to 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday point.

Within the confines of the entertainment area, customers wearing special wristbands can purchase wine in branded glasses and take it outdoors as open containers.

Wording in Little Rock’s ordinance approved Tuesday said, “This situation makes it nearly impossible for the city to protect youth from the illegal consumption of alcohol, or to effectively enforce… laws prohibiting the illegal use or acquisition of alcoholic beverages by juveniles. “

A permanent entertainment area at River Market in downtown Little Rock, the first of its kind in the city, opened in 2019, while several others operate regularly as temporary entertainment areas.

At a meeting last week, city council members approved extending the operation of two temporary recreation areas, one near East Third Street in the downtown core and another on Main Street, SoMa.

The new ordinance adds to the city code a provision that prohibits minors from crossing streets or public spaces “in parks adjacent to temporary recreation areas or permanent recreation areas authorized by Board ordinance and operating as entertainment districts.”9pm and 5am

The ban includes minors driving or riding in vehicles as passengers, as well as minors riding bicycles.

The city code lays out a series of exceptions to existing minor curfew ordinances.

The curfew does not apply to minors accompanied by their parents or a responsible adult authorized by their parents. It also does not apply to the 45 minutes after get off work for employed minors who are assumed to be home from get off work.

Board members held a special meeting Tuesday afternoon to consider the proposal. It was discussed at a meeting last week but was not added to the agenda for possible action at the time.

The version of the ordinance discussed last week would tighten curfews on minors in all city parks, not just those near recreational areas.

Board members also passed an emergency provision on Tuesday, making the ordinance effective immediately.

City directors Antwan Phillips and Ken Richardson could be heard voting against both the ordinance and the emergency clause.

After board members voted to pass the ordinance, District 2 Representative Richardson said it was “premature” to vote without data or statistics linking the issue to public safety.

Phillips, one of three general representatives on the board, believed the 9 p.m. curfew represented “excessive” and said he did not want the parameters imposed on young people.

“I don’t want us to be seen as a city that’s not having fun, or a city where we don’t understand reality as it pertains to what people do every day,” he said. He said he would support a 10pm curfew.

While supporting the ordinance, Citywide Mayor Dean Kumpuris said it was a proactive move based on past teen incidents at River Market and insight from Little Rock Police Department leadership .

He acknowledged that not one group was causing all the problems. Still, Kumpuris said recreational areas and minors should not be mixed. “It’s the same reason we tell people not to drive after drinking,” he said.

Referring to a report he received two weeks ago of 150 kids gathering at the River Market, Kumpuris called the situation “a potential grenade that one day someone pulls the pin and it’s going to explode.”

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