On Monday morning, a federal judge denied GoodKids MadCity’s request for a temporary, one-day pause of Chicago’s youth curfew ordinance for Halloween.

Since 2018, the youth-led organization has hosted a peacekeeping and cop-watching activity on Halloween in the Hyde Park neighborhood. In their lawsuit filed on Oct. 26, GKMC argued that the citywide curfew prevents their members, majority of which are under age 18, from carrying out its Halloween activity.

“GKMC members fear that if they participate in these activities during curfew hours, CPD officers will subject them to arrest, harassment and/or police violence,” the lawsuit stated.

In 2018, CBS Chicago reported that at least 100 young people were out in Hyde Park on Halloween, vandalizing cars, harassing people attending a street festival and robbing University of Chicago students. Police said 11 juveniles and one adult were arrested for reckless conduct for an incident at 53rd and Lake Park that evening.

Some of GKMC’s peacekeeping work on Halloween includes mediating disputes between teens, facilitating peace circles, creating peaceful and positive spaces for youth on Halloween, cop watching and informing youth of their constitutional rights in case they are approached by police, according to court documents.

“We talk to them and tell them who we are, what we represent, why we’re here to support them, and how not to engage with the police,” GKMC Miracle Boyd told The TRiiBE on Oct. 31, following U.S. District Judge Sara Ellis’s ruling. 

For instance, there may be young people out on Halloween who are unaware that there is a new city curfew in place, or who may be responsible for younger relatives who don’t have an adult to accompany them. 

“We also tell them they don’t have to engage the police and tell them where the activities will be happening, and if they need help, who to reach out to,” she continued. “We give them information so that they can inform themselves when confronted by a police officer.”


On May 25, the Chicago City Council passed Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s ordinance to extend and expand a citywide curfew for youth, despite critics saying the measure would disproportionately harm Black and Brown children.  

Under the ordinance, curfew begins daily at 10:00 p.m. — instead of the previous 11:00 p.m. time. It also includes minors under age 18. Previously, the curfew applied to minors ages 12 through 16. For children ages 12 and younger, their curfew remained the same: 8:30 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and 9:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. 

Curfew exceptions are granted to youth coming from ticketed or sponsored events. However, they must be able to show documentation of their attendance if asked by authorities.

That same month, Lightfoot also issued an executive order at Millennium Park requiring visitors under 18 to be accompanied by an adult after 6:00 p.m. on Thursday through Sunday nights.

A Block Club Chicago analysis of CPD data found that the city’s youth curfew was mostly enforced on the South and West sides and had little effect on crime. Grand Central, the 25th Police District covering parts of the Northwest and West sides, recorded the most reports, with 28.

In the Oct. 31 ruling, U.S. District Judge Sara Ellis said there wasn’t a need to issue a temporary restraining order for the city’s youth curfew ordinance. However, she argued that GKMC’s peacekeeping activities are protected under the first amendment, while attorneys representing the city in the lawsuit disagreed with that notion. 

During the hearing, city attorney Bradley Wilson said that CPD officers in the second police district, Wentworth, have been advised to review the city’s ordinance, along with a second order CPD Special Order S06-04-09, to ensure that de-escalation steps are employed before the curfew is enforced or any further action is taken. 

In response to questions from The TRiiBE about department guidelines for de-escalation techniques as they encounter young people, and whether more officers will be deployed in the second district on Halloween, a CPD spokesperson said:

“The Chicago Police Department regularly reviews and adjusts resources to ensure Districts across the city have sufficient staffing. We will have a comprehensive plan in place to maintain public safety citywide during Halloween,” the spokesperson wrote in the email.  

According to the lawsuit, GKMC’s presence on Halloween is considered a “non-traditional first amendment activity.” Lawyers asked for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to keep Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers from enforcing the city’s curfew against GKMC members and other young people who participate.

Although the outcome was not what they desired, civil rights attorneys Sheila Bedi and Kara Cutcher said the Ellis’ ruling affirms that peacekeeping is a protected first amendment activity. Both represented GKMC in the suit. 

“What was clear, though, is that the city was unwilling to concede that peacekeeping is a protected first amendment activity. And the court made it very clear that, in the court’s view, peacekeeping is protected under the first amendment and that the city should be advising its officers not to enforce the curfew against young people who are engaging in acts of peacekeeping,” Bedi told The TRiiBE. “So that was an important clarification that the city was unwilling to concede prior to this morning. The city was essentially saying the curfew was enough and that it’s constitutional.”

Boyd estimates that hundreds of young people come to Hyde Park on Halloween to celebrate each year because it is an affluent community with neighbors who buy the best candy. 

She added that the number of young people in Hyde Park on Halloween has decreased over the years because of the heavy police presence. According to the Hyde Park Herald, no one was arrested in Hyde Park on Halloween in 2020 and 2021. Various community groups, including GKMC, were present along 53rd Street for peacekeeping and copwatching in 2021, Hyde Park Herald reported. 

“Kids just want to have a good time. Some neighbors in Hyde Park and the police militarize instead of providing activities for them to engage in. So that creates anticipation and anxiety,” Boyd said. 

Tonight, she and other GKMC members will distribute candy and maintain their role as peacekeepers. If residents do approach young people in their communities that they perceive are misbehaving, she’s instructing community members to have positive interactions and pass out candy or gift cards, if possible.

Boyd said community members can donate funds to GKMC directly to support their efforts tonight in Hyde Park. Here is the link to send monetary donations. 

is a multimedia reporter for The TRiiBE.