A younger Noel Gallo once walked the late night streets of Oakland. “Growing up in the city of Oakland as a teenager, I knew what the curfews was because I was one individual picked up by law enforcement and questioned what was I doing on a Thursday night on Fruitvale Avenue at 12 midnight.” Police back then gave him a choice: we’ll call your parents or take you home?

The connection between life then for Gallo growing up in Oakland’s Fruitvale District and the Latino-infused area he now represents has often been a proxy for a very paternal view of fixing the problems that plague his neighborhood. In only his first year on the City Council, Gallo has literally and figuratively, worked to cleanse the Fruitvale District of grime and graffiti, searched for ways to stop young women from prostituting themselves along the International Boulevard corridor and strived to change the downward direction of youths.

This week Gallo and other members of the council propose enacting stronger fines for those who illegal dump garbage on city streets. On Thursday, Gallo also scheduled a proposed mechanism for censuring council members for Oct. 17 in the aftermath of a contentious hearing last July to reprimand Councilmember Desley Brooks for violating the City Charter. His old school ways may irk some in Oakland, along with a default setting for bending rules and relegations, but his clear desire for law and order is exactly what many Oaklanders say they desire.

An ordinance to enact a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily juvenile curfew that features punishment ranging from community service, fines or even incarceration, is likely to be the next battle in cleaning up Oakland. On Thursday, Gallo requested his controversial proposal be scheduled for introduction Nov. 12. Gallo told the City Council Rules and Legislation Committee, he needs more time to fine-tune the proposal, along with allowing the city attorney’s office to weigh-in on some portions of the ordinance and locating areas and circumstances outside the proposed curfew rules. “By then we will have the police chief, the city administrator, the attorneys, all engaged in what a curfew should look like and be all about here in the city of Oakland,” he said.

The juvenile curfew ordinance is similar to a proposal by former Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente, of which Gallo replaced last year, and current Councilmember Larry Reid. Gallo told the committee a copy of the prior curfew ordinance will be attached to the latest version when it eventually appears before the Public Safety Committee.

The De La Fuente/Reid plan, however, met resistance from the previous council and elicited stiff public condemnation. Opponents deny juvenile curfews actually improve public safety, while unwittingly offering a target for police to harass young black and Latino males. In the past, Gallo has also supported gang injunctions in the Fruitvale area, which critics have opposed under a similar argument to juvenile curfews. Nevertheless, Gallo often views the city’s problems within the prism of his own personal experiences.

It wasn’t just the cops, however, who set Gallo straight. It was his parents, he says, who ultimately stopped his late night gallivanting. After being questioned by police as a teenager for loitering, he finally got the message. “I experienced that not only one time, but several times,” Gallo says before adding the kicker, “So I got it after the third time due to my mom’s discipline and direction.”

 

 

3 Responses

  1. Aaron Parr

    The reason why decent people like Gallo propose punishing youth as a means to “get them in line” is because actually helping improve the opportunities available to Oakland’s youth is believed to be impossible.

    Admittedly it is a lot to take on. You need to bring decent jobs to Oakland in a time when few if any businesses want to pay employees what they deserve. And then there is the issue of our history of criminalizing Oakland’s youth. Generations of people live here that have been incarcerated. And although Gallo is well meaning, his proposal will do little else than further criminalize Oakland’s youth.

    Reply
  2. Sue Burnside

    28 September 2013

    What Noel Gallo is suggesting is NOT bizarre or irrational. What he is suggesting (which I thought we already HAD Curfew Laws?) is another tool to add to other tools in keeping kids safe, keeping kids accountable, keeping PARENTS accountable for their kids whereabouts, trying to help keep ALL of OAKLANDs’ people Safe.

    Gallo isn’t suggesting that Curfews of 10pm for children under 18yrs of age is THE ANSWER to community problems. He’s suggesting a Pro-Active Prevention Aide to add to other law-enforcement and other education and other community crime prevention actions.

    WHY on earth any adult, especially PARENT/GUARDIAN would be against having THEIR children in by 10pm every night is waaaaayyy beyond me.

    Unless these parents just don’t want to “be responsible” for their own children and expect others to patrol THEIR children’s whereabouts and actions. Which is 100% selfish and inappropriate to expect, to assume that the rest of us should be taking care of YOUR kids.

    Setting time schedule boundaries MIGHT help things a bit, along with making sure your kids are in school Monday-Friday and in ALL their classes.

    The kids are STILL children, people. They NEED their PARENTS/GUARDIANS to ACT LIKE PARENTS: being loving, supportive, setting realistic boundaries (such as curfews), bedtimes–kids need more sleep–regular meals whether at home or at school, sit with them for homework, take them to school and pick them up OR arrange with another parent to help with one or the other, Etc Etc ETC

    “Nazi”, Gallo ISN’T. Lazy Parents, the ones who are against his curfew idea? Quite Possibly.

    Reply
  3. Seamus

    Curfew = excellent idea. Very reasonable. Not heavy-handed.
    I don’t see any rational argument with enough weight to counter the safety benefits.

    I would argue equating a 10pm to 5am curfew for the under-18s with “criminalizing youth” is pure hyperbole and requires a gross twisting of the imagination for serious consideration as a useful labeling.

    Reply

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