No expansion of curfew in Baker in response to deadly shooting

Photo provided by staff
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 8:00am

The City of Baker is not changing the law in response to last month's deadly shooting.

The city council did not vote Tuesday night on a proposed amendment to the city's underage curfew.

Imposing a curfew was a much-discussed idea in the days following the shooting at the Baker Civic Club, which ended in the deaths of three teenagers. Baker residents are looking for something to end what they see as a culture of violence.

"We love our community, we love our children, and something has to start somewhere," Tresa Jones said. She is part of a newly-formed group called Parents Against Violence Expansion, which is holding a walk on Saturday, April 12, at 10:00 a.m. at city hall.

Jones was one of many people who spoke during the council meeting about the shooting. Many spoke of the need to love and heal. Others spoke in defense of the Baker Civic Club, citing its fundraising efforts for children and the entire Baker community.

 "The Baker Civic Club is hurting," Hazel Mitchell, the club's president said. "Not financially, our hearts are broken."

Mitchell traded accusations with Baker Police Chief Mike Knaps about his warning that was indirectly sent to her about concerns over the party being held at the club that night.

"I never changed my story, not one time," Mitchell said of the days after the shooting. "Yet his changed three times in less than 24 hours. And then his final answer, 'it doesn't matter.' Yes, it does matter! These kids matter. Everything that took place matters."

"It's behind us now," Knaps responded. "We can't undo that party. We can fix what we do for the future." He also refuted Mitchell's claim that his message did not reach her before the party started.

Councilwoman Joyce Burges proposed an amendment to the city's curfew ordinance, which starts at 11:00 p.m. on weeknights, and 1:00 a.m. on weekends. She suggested starting the curfew at 10:00 p.m. on weeknights, and adding a clause requiring parental supervision.

"And I see some parents in the audience shaking their heads as if they agree with that," Burges said, "because as a parent, my children are in bed after 10 p.m. and not out and about."

But the amendment never came up for a vote. Councilman Pete Heine argued that there is no way to legislate morality.

"You can put all kinds of rules, and curfews, and laws you want. You can change the times, you can do whatever you want. You're only going to penalize the people that obey the laws," he stated.

"The shooting over here on Magnolia happened a couple days ago between two adults, okay? Curfew's not going to bother them," added Baker resident John Abel.

Others claimed that an expanded curfew would not be practical.

"You'd be surprised how many businesses called me and was concerned about the curfew," Mayor Harold Rideau mentioned, "because they have young people that are actually working, and they're concerned about their people getting to work and getting back home."

Rideau said that if people really wanted to make a difference, they would pick up a phone and call the families of the victims.

"And keep in contact with them, because I'm going to tell you: I've lost my sister, who was very close to me. And I'm getting emotional because... they need that, they really do," he said.  


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