West Chester officials explain curfew set while protest happened Tuesday

West Chester Twp. officials say the newly enacted curfew is not meant to impact local businesses and their ability to serve patrons in the evening.

The trustees swiftly called an emergency session Tuesday night when word was received protesters from Cincinnati were expected to join a protest at the West Chester Clock Tower to honor George Floyd, the Minnesota man killed by police more than a week ago.

The curfew is from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m and is in place for 30 days. However the township can amend it on a daily basis as necessary.

“We can rescind this thing whenever we want, it’s not there to hurt the businesses in West Chester, it’s not there to hurt the residents,” Trustee Mark Welch told the Journal-News. “They don’t have to close at 10 and their customers won’t be harassed by the police on their way home. If somebody is peaceable no harm, no foul. But if something breaks out we want the capability to enforce it.”

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Jesse Grabert, a West Chester resident and mother of five, planned to just have a few friends join her and her kids share moment because things have been volatile. She said she believes she was put here to be a “servant” and to promote peace and justice and is trying to teach her kids the same.

She said as rumors started filtering up that protesters might be on their way, she received several threatening phone calls.

“I was getting messages from people in the community saying ‘if anything happens to anyone tonight you’re responsible, hope you can live with yourself anybody gets hurt. Shame on you for putting your kids in danger…’” she said.

When the protesters from Cincinnati arrived, her response was, “I’m Jesse, I never promoted any riot or even protests for that matter. But it was still a good night.”

Protesters from Cincinnati arrived shortly after 6:30 p.m. and joined the existing group of a few dozen who held signs and were spread throughout the area.

The trustees passed the emergency resolution while the event was happening. The township issued a statement about the measure Wednesday.

“The West Chester Township Board of Trustees supports peaceful demonstration and expression of all points of view and welcomes these voices to our community,” it reads. “The Township, however, will not support large gatherings that promote or encourage lawless, dangerous, or destructive behavior.”

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