Coble resident Candice Cash appeared before the Henderson City Council on Monday to propose a curfew for youth under sixteen years of age.
Cash stated that she had been in conversation with Oxford Police Chief John Wolford regarding the issue. A copy of an email from Wolford to Cash may be viewed here.
According to Cash, her proposed ordinance would require that youth be off of the street by 11:00 p.m. on weekdays and 12:00 a.m. on weekends.
There are exceptions to the rules, such as operating a motor vehicle or participating in sponsored, organized, and adult-supervised activities.
Cash called a curfew “positive for Henderson”. She said that the police are limited in what they can do because Henderson does not currently have a curfew.
Although the ordinance proposed by Cash calls for fines, Cash suggested that money obtained as a result of enforcement of the law could be used to help youth.
Cash surrendered a petition to the council on which she claimed she had 510 signatures in support of a curfew.
Council member Lonnie Davis asked if Cash had tried other resources, such as the Stop the Violence Committee. Cash replied that she had tried other avenues, but that the situation was not improving.
Council member Mary Emma Evans asked if there was violence in Cash’s neighborhood, or if she was simply concerned about walking.
Cash told Evans that two weeks ago 30 youths were “fist-fighting” in her front yard. When asked by Evans if she had called the police, Cash replied that she had informed the police officer at the Skateeum, who sent the youths “up the road”.
“They [the police] can make them go up the road, but they can’t make them go home,” Cash said.
Council member Bobby Gupton, who was the first member of this term of the city council to champion the problems of Coble Boulevard residents with unruly youth, said that he had personally observed the negative behavior.
Cash told the council that “we need to get them home and get them safe”. She insisted that she was not trying to “lock kids up”.
Coble Boulevard resident Nancy Bell, speaking from the audience, said that she had been fighting since 1999 for a curfew. She said that the children are out of control and do not listen to the police. She added that the police can only move the children from one block to the next.
Bell said that the trouble began when the private road from Coble Boulevard to the Marketplace shopping center was constructed.
Bell told the council that other residents in other areas of the city have the same issues.
Eugene Burton, also speaking from the audience, said that he had proposed a curfew last year. He also added that he would like a crack down on slum landlords putting dope addicts in and out of rentals.
His remarks met with general applause.
Evans stated that she had visited the Coble Boulevard area for the last three or four weekends. She said she talked to some of the young people and that they were “just walking”. She asked the council why nothing was being done about adult crime in the area. She stated that a resident in the area had recently been “flim-flammed”, but that no one seemed concerned.
More audience members attempted to speak, but Henderson Mayor Clem Seifert was reluctant to permit others to speak outside of normal council procedure besides Bell and Burton.
Cash reiterated that her proposed ordinance was about “loving kids enough to want them home at night”.
Resident Donald Green said from the audience that parents should be responsible for their children.
Andrea Harris, who was present as a representative of the Weed & Seed Steering Committee said that the debate was an additional affirmation of the need for the Weed & Seed program.
She said it was important to understand that young people do not create the environment in which they live.
Harris asked the council to stand up and provide a greater vision. She said that the poorest in Henderson are in the north, east, and partly in the south sections of the city, but that the services they need are somewhere else.
In a telephone interview with Cash conducted yesterday, the Coble Boulevard resident told Home in Henderson that she is no longer circulating the petition signed by residents of Henderson and Vance County. She said she is waiting to see what happens after the next Public Safety Committee meeting, where the proposed ordinance will be discussed.
Cash indicated that Vance County residents have expressed interest in a county-wide curfew, and that pursuing such an ordinance may be next on her agenda.
Cash said that she believed that a curfew has a chance of being enacted in Henderson. When asked what she thought the council’s reaction was, she said, “I think it was well-received.”
The petition organizer stressed that the curfew does not take anything away from young people, and that people should have an open mind and read the ordinance. Cash told Home in Henderson that people must be willing to change.
“They talk about it, but get upset when it’s time,” she said.
Cash stated that the problem is not just on Coble, but all over Henderson.