The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut opposes Bridgeport’s youth curfew, approved by the City Council Thursday and signed into law by Mayor Bill Finch Monday afternoon.
The ACLU successfully fought to overturn a similar curfew in the town of Vernon nearly a decade ago and believes Bridgeport’s is equally vulnerable to a court challenge.
But while city officials may not like the criticism and saber-rattling from the ACLU, for now that’s all it is.
Sandy Staub, the ACLU’s legal director, said to take the city’s curfew to court, the organization needs a plaintiff.
“Someone who has been aggrieved by the curfew. A parent. Children. Parent and children, together,” Staub said. “We need a client.”
Finch during today’s signing ceremony said it will probably be a month before the curfew is enforced. And even then first time violators are given a warning, rather than a fine.
And even if in the coming months the ACLU locates someone who wants to go through the time, effort and stress of being the poster-person waging a battle with the Finch administration over the curfew, the case would take a few years to be decided in court.
The Vernon lawsuit, for example, lasted around three to four years, Staub said. By that time Bridgeport officials may have decided to scrap the curfew themselves. Finch noted Monday the City Council is supposed to review the issue in six months.
The ACLU and Finch administration may be facing off far sooner before the state Freedom of Information Commission.
The Vernon curfew was struck down in part because that town did not make a solid case a curfew was needed.
Finch during the signing ceremony told reporters Bridgeport is in a much better position and that the city has police data establishing a pattern of youth violence during the curfew hours.
Staub said in mid-July the ACLU submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Finch administration for “any studies, evidence, reports that would substantiate there were specific problems at specific hours at specific ages. And we’ve gotten no response.”
So, Staub said, the ACLU recently filed a complaint with the FOI Commission in Hartford.
“So (the curfew) can be criticized for lack of transparency, at least at this point,” she said.