New Fulton curfew limited, but exemplary



The change to Fulton County’s youth curfew that commissioners passed last week only applies to a few, but sponsor Commissioner Khadijah Abdur-Rahman said she wants it to set an example for area cities.

At least one Atlanta official has made it known she’s listening.

City Council Member Keisha Waites said Thursday she was grateful for the county’s ordinance and thanked Abdur-Rahman for urging cities to tighten their curfews too.

“In Atlanta, I am open to a 10 p.m. curfew, and I look forward to collaborating with the mayor and city council on the remaining provisions to get this youth safety measure passed,” Waites said.

The Fulton County ordinance amendment cites a December report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on rising violence and crime involving minors.

“The purpose of this curfew is because I have received quite a bit of calls from parents, from other elected officials, of the opinion that we have to do something about our teens,” Abdur-Rahman said.

A growing number of young people have committed crimes or been killed late at night, she said, citing the shooting death of 13-year-old Deshon DuBose outside Atlanta’s Cascade Family Skating after 11 p.m. on Jan. 21.

Sometimes parents know their children are out unsupervised, but don’t take responsibility, Abdur-Rahman said.

“We’ve got to do something,” she said.

The county’s previous curfew, adopted in 1994, says those age 17 or younger can’t be out unaccompanied between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, or 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights.

The ordinance amendment passed Wednesday changes that to age 16 or younger in order to be consistent with cities’ curfews, according to the legislation.

Abdur-Rahman’s initial proposal was to start the curfew at 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and leave the 12:01 a.m. start on Fridays and Saturdays alone.

But she accepted amendments from Commissioner Natalie Hall to make the curfew start at 11 p.m. every day of the week.

Hall said many young people have sports practices and other legitimate activities that run late, so she didn’t want to target them with a very early curfew.

Commissioners voted 5-0 for the curfew change, with Marvin Arrington Jr. and Bob Ellis not voting.

The ordinance only applies within the small unincorporated area of Fulton County – a stretch of Fulton Industrial Boulevard. Fewer than 500 people live there, according to Jessica Corbitt, Department of External Affairs director for Fulton County.

Hall said “entire families with children” are living in hotels along Fulton Industrial Boulevard, often with little supervision because of parents’ work schedules.

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office would enforce the curfew in the unincorporated area, but does not enforce city curfews, Corbitt said. Each city’s police department would enforce its local curfew.

About half of the 15 cities in Fulton County have youth curfews in their municipal codes. In the past few years several metro cities have made their curfews stricter after high-profile crimes or deaths.

Atlanta’s current curfew says those age 16 and under can’t be out in public unsupervised between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., except Fridays and Saturday when they can be out until midnight. Like most, perhaps all area curfews, that includes exceptions for emergencies, coming home from school activities, meetings, sports or a job.

In November, following the murder of 12-year-old Zyion Charles, Waites proposed starting Atlanta’s curfew at 7 p.m. But on Jan. 23 the city council put that on hold for community discussion. Now Waites says she will invite the mayor and council to join her in hosting community listening sessions over the next few weeks, and urged officials to act soon.

“This is not a panacea, but it can help save lives, and if we save even one life, we are moving in the right direction,” she said. Waites said she has gotten “hundreds of emails, texts, and phone calls” backing an 8 p.m. curfew.

College Park has an 8 p.m. curfew for those under age 14, and 10 p.m. for ages 14 through 16. Curfews for both groups end at 6 a.m.

East Point has had a curfew for minors since 1996, but tightened it in 2021 to affect anyone under 17. Its hours are 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Hapeville’s code says those age 17 or under can’t be out from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, or 11:59 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Palmetto’s curfew applies to anyone under 18, according to the city code. It runs from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and midnight to 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

South Fulton imposes an 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew Sunday through Thursday, and 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday, on anyone age 17 or under.

Union City’s curfew affects those under 17, from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight to 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday.