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City of Denton updates purpose of curfew

Denton Stories

Local Order Implements Curfew and Other Restrictions in Designated Areas

DENTON, TX, UPDATED on June 1, 2020 at 3 p.m. – The City has received inquiries regarding the purpose and need to issue a curfew and emergency order in certain areas of the city. It is absolutely not a response to or reflection of the peaceful demonstrations in Denton over the weekend and the decision was not made lightly.

Although our community has expressed itself in nothing but a peaceful manner to date; we have learned through various sources and tips, that some outside groups and individuals are encouraging violent and destructive activity to be brought here to Denton, to our community. This activity has been witnessed in online forums and channels and has also been reported by event organizers to the Denton Police Department as they seek assistance to ensure their demonstrations remain peaceful and safe. For instance, an outside group was encouraging followers to do a better job of hiding bricks or other items that could be used as projectiles to damage the downtown area, even after the City had previously removed such items and increased its canvassing of the area, and there have been posts threatening the use of Molotov cocktails in Denton.

We are not alone in our heightened level of preparedness to protect our community and peaceful demonstrations. Several cities in the DFW area are witnessing the same threats and are adjusting their response as groups that are encouraging destructive behavior extend their reach beyond large urban centers like Dallas, thus the need to be prepared.

As a result of these circumstances, the difficult decision was made to issue a curfew in the areas identified as possible targets of violence and/or vandalism to reduce the possibility for violence, injury, and property damage. Again, this is not a result of the peaceful demonstrations that have occurred here in Denton, but a precaution based upon concerning threats that cannot responsibly be ignored by the City government. The City has reached out and informed business owners in the downtown area, and while many are eager to continue their business, many were appreciative of the proactive measures to protect our community and their property.

The City will continue to support and protect peaceful demonstrations that allow residents’ voices to safely be heard. The need for a curfew and emergency order will continue to be evaluated throughout the term of the order.

The below press release was issued on Sunday, May 31 with a copy of the order.

DENTON, TX, May 31, 2020 – Mayor Chris Watts issued a local order, effective as of 5 p.m. today, to encourage peaceful demonstrations and protests within the City. Since the death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, demonstrations for justice and change have taken place in many urban areas across the nation. While most have been conducted peacefully, some cities experienced violence that resulted in injuries and significant property damage.

Out of an abundance of caution, with several events planned within Denton, and with some threatening to engage in possible violence, the order is a step to ensure that, in the event a demonstration experiences destructive elements, any chance of injury to those present or damage to surrounding property is reduced. The order mandates that:

  • A curfew is established for the Designated Downtown Area, the Denton County Courthouse, Jail Facility, and any other areas of the Denton County building complex (see Exhibit 1) from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. from Sunday, May 31, 2020 through Sunday, June 7, 2020;

  • Public safety personnel, credentialed members of the news media, individuals traveling to and from work, or individuals seeking medical attention, among other designated persons or activities are exempted from this curfew;

  • Within the designated areas (Exhibit 1), the following items will be prohibited from 5 p.m. until 6 a.m.: – Weapons, including knives, pepper spray, and clubs; – All purses, bags, and containers larger than a small clutch bag, backpacks and other similar bags and containers as listed in the order; and – Projectiles and signs with rigid components that could be used as a weapon.

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“Like many of you, I was deeply shocked and saddened by the senseless killing of George Floyd,” said Mayor Watts. “ I support the right of every citizen to peacefully protest to express their anger, sadness and call for reform; however, at this time we must do all we can to protect those in attendance, other bystanders, and the surrounding area from any potential harm. This order will help ensure our residents will make it home safely and protect private property from damage.”

Denton Police Department will conduct its normal patrol activities in the designated areas, adjusting the number of officers on hand based on expected crowds.

“The Denton Police Department understands the need for change and embraces the coming together with our community to identify and address the areas where we can implement change,” Chief of Police Frank Dixon said. “The Denton Police Department will continue working with the community to keep everyone safe so residents can exercise their constitutionally protected rights.”

The order expires after seven (7) days, unless extended by a vote of the full Denton City Council.

Click here to read the signed order and Mayoral Order Area Map (Exhibit 1).

Contact: Ryan Adams, (940) 349-8565, Ryan.Adams@cityofdenton.com

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