A 21 year-old man was released without charges after being arrested near the Delmar Loop MetroLink in St. Louis on Saturday. The police officer who arrested the 21-year-old experienced a minor head injury. The St. Louis Dispatch and KMOV report that the officer was breaking up a fight that allegedly drew a crowd of between 50 and 100 people, including many teenagers.
In response to the “incident” and complaints that teens who are “not from University City,” are “wandering,” “roaming” and “brushing up against customers,” along the Delmar Loop, a Tuesday meeting was called between Delmar Loop business owners, representatives from Mayor Slay’s office, University City officials and representatives of Washington University. (Washington University’s Office of General Counsel denied any involvement in this meeting).
Several proposals emerged from the meeting. These include “lowering the city’s curfew to 6 p.m.,” rounding up teenagers to “let them sit in a paddy wagon for three hours,” adding a police substation to process them and “closing the Loop’s MetroLink station early on Fridays and Saturdays.” To curb the influx of “unruly” young adults, the University City manager promised “active enforcement of all ordinances.” According to KMOV, $160,000 has been allocated by the Saint Louis Economic Development Corporation for increased surveillance of the Loop area.
One wonders whether any youth advocates or African-American community leaders were invited to the summit.
For those who don’t know “The Loop,” some background: The Loop is a commercial section of Delmar Boulevard populated by fashion boutiques, restaurants, bars, a weekend farmer’s market and Chuck Berry’s favorite venue, “Blueberry Hill.” It’s located in a St. Louis City enclave called University City because it is adjacent to Washington University.
Many affluent professionals live in University City where the streets are named after Ivy League colleges. Joe Edwards, the owner of several properties along The Loop, including Blueberry Hill, has been funding business and development east of Skinker Boulevard. A Church’s Chicken sits on the corner of Delmar and Skinker. As you travel eastward along Delmar Boulevard past the MetroLink Station, the sparkle of commercial activity fades and instead you see barber shops with barred windows, empty retail buildings and an older urgent care center. The northeastern section of University City is populated by more African Americans and has lower property values. Some might characterize University City as segregated.
University City marks the eastern boundary between St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis. According to Wikipedia, “when compared to other large urban counties, St. Louis County’s crime rate per 100,000 residents is among the lowest in the nation.” The 2000 census lists St. Louis County as both the largest county and the county with the highest per capita income in Missouri.
Is strict enforcement of local ordinances against loitering and curfews an appropriate response to recent events in the Loop? Does the history of segregation in Saint Louis belong in a discussion of this response?
Katherine Hunt Federle, Children, Curfews, and the Constitution, 73 Wash. U.L.Q. 1315, 1329 (1995) (“While many ordinances purport to reduce criminal activity and the victimization of children, curfews seemingly have little impact on delinquency and victimization rates.”)