To hell with curfew

That's no gang of thugs terrorizing midnight's mean streets, it's a congregation of God's children reclaiming souls on the swing shift.

By Carina Chocano

Published October 15, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

Oct. 15, 1999

"Towns across America have been passing curfews to get their children off the streets at night. In Washington D.C. ... children aged 16 and under have to be home by 11 p.m. on weekdays, and by midnight at the weekends, though it does admit exceptions such as ... 'church activities.'" -- The Economist

History holds ample evidence to suggest that curfews have had no more impact on juvenile crime rates than previous initiatives involving early bedtimes, groundings and "stern talkings to." After carefully monitoring Washington, D.C., police department records since the curfew went into effect, the Center for Ineffectual Legislation (a nonprofit organization) has compiled a list of transcriptions and police blotters detailing the detention of juveniles in violation of curfew and their subsequent release due to connection with religious activity. The documents speak for themselves.

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Date: 9/25/99

Address of Occurrence: 1424 U St., NW

Name of Location: Hassan's Liquors

Offense: curfew violation

Description: Officers arrived at scene approximately 11:23 p.m. following 911 call from proprietor's mother. Caller claimed suspects were, quote, kicking the holy shit out of her son, endquote. Officers confirmed juveniles, dressed in coarse garments decorated with red crosses, were armed with maces, swords, shields and what appeared to be pointy crucifixes. One juvenile brandished a rudimentary garden hoe while threatening the store's proprietor, Ed Hassan, with repeated cries of "Deus veult, infidel!" Juveniles were also spotted fleeing the scene carrying several cases of Zima, a small box of Slim Jims (b-b-q) and a bolt of silk. When questioned by officers, juveniles explained they'd passed the scene on their way to recapture the Holy Land from Muslims when they realized they could use the practice.

Report: Sgt. I. Crisp

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Date: 9/27/99

Address of Occurrence: Rock Creek Park

Name of Location: Playground

Offense: curfew violation

Description: After local residents filed noise complaints due to loud music and "blood-curdling cries of religious renunciation," officers on the swingset beat came across juvenile suspects (Tomasito Torquemada and Sixx Four, aka "The Pope") in far section of park approx. 1:19 a.m. Suspects had erected a makeshift interrogation area in the playground and were in the process of flogging the victim (identified only as "Luther") with undo force while loudly demanding a confession. When questioned by officers, suspects became agitated. Exclaiming, quote, who's asking the questions?, endquote, they accused the officers of heresy. The victim seconded the accusation and fled the scene. The suspects then applied hot coals and a rectal pear to officers Jackson and Stamp respectively.

Report: Sgt. F. Fuda

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Date: 9/31/99

Address of Occurrence: Connecticut and Van Ness

Name of Location: none

Offense: curfew violation

Description: Officers detained vehicle on the corner of Connecticut and Van Ness at 11:12 p.m. for exceeding the speed limit. Vehicle was found to contain four female minors in a state of agitation over curfew violation. The juveniles claimed to be returning from a church drama club rehearsal of "Salem!" that had run longer than usual due to the lead actress' reluctance to be tried and hanged by a jury of jealous chorus members. Suspects assured officers they were aware of recent changes in the law, and that they were "totally, totally telling the truth." Suspects then produced evidence in the form of the flattened body of their classmate, whom they'd finally "pressed together with stones and stuff" in a last-ditch effort to make it home on time. Officers did not cite juveniles for moving violation, but did issue a warning regarding proper use of seat belts.

Report: Lt. Custer

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Date: 10/11/99

Address of Occurrence: Haines Point

Name of Location: none

Offense: curfew violation

Description: At 12:29 a.m., officer came across group of juveniles attempting to set fire to platform of kindling and dry branches. Officer noted male in his 20s or 30s tied to pole above the platform. When questioned as to their activities, juveniles assured officers they planned to disperse as soon as "the heretic" was as "mm-mm crispy as the Lord intended." Officer then asked if youths had obtained the necessary permits required for open-air fire, to which suspects replied, quote, No, sir, officer, sir, endquote. Officer then lit the fire himself, and remained on the scene until the flames had been properly extinguished.

Report: Sgt. H. Urban

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Date: 10/11/99

Address of Occurrence: 9th and V Streets

Name of Location: Abandoned building

Offense: curfew violation

Description: Responding to a 911 call regarding what callers believed to be a drug-related homicide, officers arrived on scene at 2:23 a.m. to find underage victim down after gunshot wound to thorax. Perpetrator, also a minor, remained on the scene and was calm during questioning. Perpetrator explained that victim, a well-known local religious relics dealer with a record of simony and fraud, had angered perpetrator by attempting to, quote, pass off the moldy scrotum of St. Arnulph as grade-A St. Augustine sac, endquote.

Report: Lt. J. Arch

Carina Chocano

Carina Chocano writes about TV for Salon. She is the author of "Do You Love Me or Am I Just Paranoid?" (Villard).

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