Helena-West Helena Effects 24-Hour Curfew

HELENA-WEST HELENA, AR - Helena-West Helena Mayor James Valley says he ordered a round-the-clock curfew and heavy police patrol in a ten-block section of town because the neighborhood was "under seige with repeated gunfire, loitering, drug dealing and other general mayhem."

Valley ordered the emergency curfew Thursday, effective immediately.  It was still in place today.  He said it would remain in place as long as the problems persist or until the city council can come up with a long-term plan at its August 19 meeting.

Thursday night, 18 to 20 police officers carrying M-16 rifles, shotguns and night-vision scopes patrolled the "curfew zone."  They arrested about eight people and confiscated drugs and loaded weapons.

Under Valley's orders, officers do not tolerate loitering or "hanging out."  Officers can stop and investigate all foot traffic, bycycle, horseback, mo-ped, motorcycle, riding mower, golf cart and other means of transportation.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas says the curfew is "blatantly unconstitutional" and has demanded that Valley lift the order immediately.

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