MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee leaders say curfews are going to be enforced in the city to help cut down on violence. Some research shows curfews are ineffective. However, a business owners says something needs to be done.
Hans Weissgerber operates the Old German Beer Old on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in downtown Milwaukee, just a block away from Deer District. He says he is glad the city's curfew is going to be enforced again. He says a lot of the problems Friday night came from people under the age of 21.
"Most of them don't even try to get into the bars. The ones that are causing the problems, what they are doing is parking on the side of the road here,” said Weissgerber pointing to the street on MLK Drive. “And they will consume alcohol that they have gotten, that they have brought on their own and it turns into a tailgating party on the side of the road and then things escalate from there."
Weissgerber believes the violence only happened because of the Milwaukee Bucks playoff watch party.
"Generally speaking, I have really never felt unsafe here except for when (there are) gigantic gatherings, without any, again, any real consideration given for what happens outside the boundaries of the gathering,” said Weissgerber.
The Milwaukee Police Department says of the people who have been arrested their ages ranged from 19 to 31. All of those people would be over the age the curfew, which applies to people younger than 17. However, Mayor Cavalier Johnson says there are more problems in the city than what is happening at downtown Milwaukee bars and the curfew can help.
“We have neighborhoods as well and we also have to make sure those neighborhoods are safe and secure too. So it is not just a downtown strategy. The curfew will be enforced and police presence will be adjusted across neighborhoods,” said Johnson.
However, a 2016 study of curfews across the country by Campbell Collaboration found overall "juvenile curfews are ineffective at reducing crime and victimization." Researches who wrote a 2015 Brookings Institute op-ed found moving juvenile curfews up even by one hour created more shootings when they looked at curfews in Washington D.C. The researchers found that moving a curfew from midnight to 11 p.m., the same time Milwaukee's curfew goes into effect on the weekend, increased gun violence by 150-percent in that one hour. That breaks down to seven additional gunfire incidents a week.
However, Weissgerber says if it helps deter people from starting problems, it is worth trying.
“If mentioning the curfew or if allowing the enforcement of the curfew is the mechanism that they need to nip this stuff in the butt then that's what should be happening,” said Weissgerber.
TMJ4 News reached out to the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin. They released this statement on curfews:
"Curfews, by and large, allow law enforcement too much discretion over who they choose to arrest. As we've seen time and time again, police disproportionately target Black and Brown people, and the fear is that people of color would likely bear the brunt of selective and biased enforcement of curfews. Curfews also may escalate tensions between police and homeless Milwaukee residents, who don't have a choice but to be on the streets."