Randy Hogan: Something has got to be done

Randy Hogan

On Thursday, Mayor James Valley declared an emergency curfew in a 10-block section of Helena-West Helena because the city was “under siege by repeated gunfire, loitering, drug dealing and general mayhem.”

He is not exaggerating.

During a saturation Thursday night, about 20 police officers armed with M-16 rifles, shotguns and night-vision scopes patrolled the “curfew zone.” Police arrested eight individuals and confiscated drugs and loaded weapons.

At this point, all I can say about the situation is the mayor and the city had to do something. The city is currently plagued by the same serious crimes that Memphis and Little Rock deal with on a daily basis.

On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union entered the picture. In a letter directed to Mayor Valley, ACLU attorney Holly Dickson notified that his recent action was unconstitutional and the enforcement of the emergency curfew could subject the city to civil liability for violating the rights of those of whom the curfew is imposed and enforced.

Valley has called a city council session at noon today to address the legality of the curfew with City Attorney Andre Valley.

I openly admit that I rarely agree with the ACLU. This instance is no exception. I would like to remind the public that this is the group that stands up for those who want prayer abolished from schools and the Ten Commandments removed from government property. I do agree with the ACLU on one matter – the Constitutional rights of all Americans. While the ACLU frequently advises governments and businesses of their violations of others rights they offer no solutions to the problems that exist.

My rights end where yours begin. For example, the Constitution gives everyone the right to own firearms. However, it does not give anyone the right to use those same weapons to kill, injure or intimidate citizens. It gives no one the right to deal illegal drugs on the city’s sidewalks.

I do not believe that it is the intention of Mayor Valley to put any good citizen of this community under house arrest. There’s got to be an answer to the spiraling crime rate. Our police are frustrated because when they make the arrest the courts put the accused offender back on the street faster than the cop can climb back in his squad car.

The people of this community and country are sick and tired of hearing about the rights of criminals, particularly repeat offenders. Frankly, it seems to me that anyone that breaks the law as frequently as some should not be entitled to the same Constitutional rights as law-abiding citizens .

Maybe the curfew should be revisited. One solution is to enforce the curfew of underage youngsters on the streets. Make the parents accountable.

Sincerely to the ACLU, offer some solutions to a community that is at its wit’s end dealing with crime and are at the end of their rope. What can you do if you can’t keep the hoodlums off the streets at night?

Also to the ACLU, if you are not going to be part of the solution, you become part of the problem.