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Effective November 1, 2007, the Village of Port Washington North's 20-year-old curfew law is repealed. The board of trustees at a regular meeting on Oct. 22 voted unanimously. But the meeting was far from "regular" with news cameras and reporters from Channel 12, 1010 WINS and HD 2. WCBS 880 covered the story. Forty high school students from Holy Trinity, as part of their "Participation in Government" assignment, diligently took notes. About the same number from Schreiber High School attended the meeting, as did Tara Keenan-Thompson, executive director of the ACLU. Village resident Mary Lou Dempsy thought well over a hundred people squeezed into the main meeting room and an overflow area.

Several of the village residents who attended were still in favor of the curfew law. One said he would hold the village responsible for any damage to his property or person. On the other side, the village attorney suggested that the ACLU could take the village to court if it did not repeal the curfew law which could cost the village a great deal of money. That possibility was only one factor in the unanimous vote to repeal the curfew law, Mayor Weitzner said. Another factor was that 18-year-olds are adults legally and should not be required to have an adult chaperone. But the mayor said that he would not be so quick to make a new curfew law for those under 18 years old. He said times have changed over the 20 years since a dangerous riot threatened many of the village residents. The drinking age changed from 18 to 21 years old. Sousa school, where students gathered, is no longer a junior high school. Weitzner feels that parents are now more fearful for their children's safety and more watchful of their movements. He uses himself as an example. He feels he is much more watchful over his own teenagers than his parents were with him, insisting on a much earlier curfew than he was allowed as a teenager.

Weitzner formed a committee of about nine residents who will meet to pinpoint people's fears, and determine what the village can do about them. He doubts that the findings will call for a curfew law but there needs to be alternative methods to assuage the safety concerns of residents, he said. Weitzner said there had not been any vandalism on October 30 and 31 for many years in this area.

Stefan Muller, the co-founder of the Port Washington Youth Rights Club and vice-president of the national Youth Rights Club, said, "We will, of course, be following up on this to ensure that any law put in place is in keeping with the rights of all citizens." His club originally challenged the curfew law as unconstitutional for singling out one age group and had spent countless hours trying to convince the village trustees for almost a year. Muller said his group won an important victory in the repeal of the curfew law.


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