Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty agreed Tuesday his officers made mistakes Saturday when they rounded up about 20 teenagers on curfew violations in front of the Harkins Bricktown Cinema and hauled them away in what one parent described as a “paddy wagon.”
Several parents complained about the curfew sweep at Tuesday’s Oklahoma City Council meeting. Parents said officers arrested the teens at least 20 minutes before the 11 p.m. curfew began.
Some of the children arrested were waiting for rides after attending a movie, which is allowed under the city’s curfew statute. Others were accompanied to the theater by adults but arrested anyway while their parents retrieved their vehicles.
Peggy Hammons‘ daughter, Kelsea, and her friend, Brittney Campbell, both 15, attended an 8:20 p.m. showing of “Transformers” at Harkins with Brittney’s mother. The movie let out just before 11, and the two teens waited in front of the theater while Brittney‘s mom got the car.
“A female police officer approached them, instructed them to hand over their cellphones and get over and get in that paddy wagon,” Peggy Hammons said. “My daughter and her friend were never once asked, ‘Were you there to see the movie and do you have a ticket?’ They tried to explain to the police officers, and they were told to shut up and be quiet.”
Valenthia Doolin, of Oklahoma City, said she arrived to pick up her kids at 10:40 p.m. and found a line of police cars and vans. Her children were not answering their cellphones. Panicked, she parked and walked to the theater but could not find her kids.
She eventually received a text message from her son saying they had been picked up on a curfew violation.
Doolin said officers refused to listen when they pointed out their mom’s car and said their ride was there minutes before the curfew began.
“We felt violated, harassed and frightened at the hands of Oklahoma City law enforcement,” Doolin said. “Something has to be done to ensure that it never happens again.”
Citty said officers conducted the sweep because of an increase in assaults and other complaints involving juveniles in Bricktown after hours. He said at least two of the citations issued Saturday have been dismissed because they shouldn’t have been issued to begin with. Others could also be thrown out…
‘Called kids liars’
Parents complained they were treated unprofessionally by staff at the center and had to wait six hours or more to get their kids back.
“The C.I.C. staff used profanity, harsh language and called kids liars when they weren’t given the information they wanted to hear,” Peggy Hammons said. “My husband and I arrived at the C.I.C. before midnight. I could hear my daughter and her friend just in the other room bawling.”
Kelsea Hammons said she and Brittney held hands in a holding cell because they were scared but were told by staff to separate because they were publicly displaying affection…
One of the comments there states:
If I remember the story correct the home owners in the neighborhood say that there is a greenbelt behind their houses and this fills up with kids as the night wears on, should this be a focus of a curfew roundup? Yes! Does this indicate that this is a minor issue in our city? No, more than minor! Last night Chief Citty said that when there is a crowd, especially kids, it leads to trouble. we need enforcement of the curfew hrs. just not kids that are waiting on their parents to pick them up from the movies
Somehow I doubt that the kids who cause trouble are white – yet it is white kids who are victimized by this police misconduct. It’s not that white kids don’t get into trouble, but there are different general behavior patterns for the different races. To treat them all the same is cruel. It’s cruel to white kids who must now endure the heavy hand of the law, and it’s cruel to crime victims whose concerns are not being dealt with effectively. Law enforcement should be allowed, even encouraged, to discriminate based on gender, age and race. The one size fits all approach is cruel, foolish and ineffective.
I wonder if the cops who perpetrated this injustice are black. Either way, we should be asking some hard questions, such as “was Jim Crow really that bad?”. Looking through the comments on the above article, there is a lot of concern about civil rights violations and abuse by police. It is painfully obvious that racial integration and civil rights do not go well together. We can have either racial integration or a free, civil, society but not both.