May 22, 1899: Duluth Council establishes curfew for children under 16

On this day in Duluth in 1899, the Common Council unanimously passed an ordinance establishing a curfew for children 16 years old and younger. Between May 1 and September 30, kids had to be off the streets by 9:30 p.m.; from October 1 until April 30, they had to be home or under the supervision of a parent or guardian after 9 p.m. Despite the Duluth News Tribune’s claim that since there was no curfew bell to ring, the curfew couldn’t be enforced, the ordinance said that parents were “expected to see that the children will obey the provisions of the ordinance and escape arrest.” The newspaper also made light of the ordinance, mentioning the next day that “the curfew ordinance does not cover the adults that act like children when they have flooded their forward cabins with beer.” Over the next fifteen years the city argued for and against a curfew. The law was tightened in 1911 and 1915. Despite this, the ordinance made news again in 1918, with another promise to tighten enforcement. Duluth’s current curfew law, passed in May 2009, states that minors 16 years old and younger must be off the streets by 11 p.m. and stay indoors until 5 a.m.

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