Chester lockdown extended 30 days

Chester Mayor Wendell Butler Jr. slept better the last few nights since he declared a five-day “state of emergency” that regimented a curfew on five residential neighborhoods in his small city.

And he just got another month of sound sleep after Chester City Council approved a monthlong extension to the curfew yesterday.

“I have slept better but the good thing out of this is how many residents have come up to me and said, ‘Mayor, I haven’t had peace of mind like this in years,’” Butler said.

He also said at least 20 people have been cited by police for walking on city streets after 9 p.m. Those outside without a valid excuse are given citations, requiring a court appearance and possible fine.

Despite some residents’ approval of what amounts to martial law — considering police are also working without vacation time allowed for the duration —others said at the Council meeting yesterday that they feared an abuse of police powers.

And some civil rights activists also wondered whether such a lockdown had any long-term effects.

“We don’t want people being killed but we also want to make sure we’re delicate with people’s civil liberties,” Chad Lassiter of Black Men at Penn School of Social Work said. “It becomes punitive on the people in the community when you legalize keeping people in their homes at night.”

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