Law proposed to close Flint businesses by 9 p.m. gains mayor’s support

Mayor Sheldon Neeley believes the ordinance is a good idea to prevent crime
Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 7:12 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Is shutting down liquor stores, gas stations and other convenience stores by 9 p.m. the solution to curbing crime in Flint?

At least two Flint City Council members think so.

The council was expected to bring it up for discussion at Monday’s meeting, but the meeting was postponed. A Michigan Supreme Court ruling issued Monday afternoon threw out all of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus orders issued after April 30, meaning the meeting Monday evening couldn’t take place online as planned.

When council members are able to reconvene, though, Mayor Sheldon Neeley is supporting the proposed ordinance. He said there’s proof that this can work, pointing to the success of the 9 p.m. curfew he put in place at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

“So we know that crime was down during those periods of time, requiring people to be off the streets. And so, this is another form of saying that some areas, it could be a multiplying effect of crime outside of these party stores and or liquor stores,” Neeley said.

The latest crime stats from the city of Flint are dated Oct. 4 one week ago. They show that 42 people have been murdered this year.

Just last week, Flint police said an 18-year-old was killed just outside the BP gas station near Clio Road and Myrtle Street on Flint’s north side. That shooting happened just after 10:30 p.m.

City Councilman Maurice Davis believes that shooting never would have happened if gas stations and liquor stores closed by 9 p.m. It’s something he’s been pushing for months.

Neeley said he’ll work with council members on the proposal. He wants to look at what other cities and townships outside the city are doing.

Neeley also would like to work with business owners. As part of the process of passing this ordinance, they’ll have a chance to voice their opinion.

He doesn’t believe the ordinance would hurt businesses financially or take away options for residents looking for food in food desert.

“Usually when we look at those hours of operations, it’s not those individuals that’s usually going out to look for some groceries or some supplement to dinnertime at nine o’clock or 10 o’clock at night,” Neeley said.

The Mayor’s Office is working to gather data to show how many crimes are connected to these types of businesses after 9 p.m.

The Mayor added passing an ordinance is a process. It involves discussion and public hearings, followed by drafting the language of the ordinance. It then needs to have a first and second reading before it can be passed.

Neeley could pass an executive order limiting business hours, but he wants the council members to be involved.

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