Kemah may enact ‘midnight curfew’ to combat violence; bar owners unhappy

Crime concerns in Kemah Lighthouse District
Crime concerns in Kemah Lighthouse District

KEMAH, Texas – Kemah, which has cut its city staff nearly in half during the pandemic, will discuss options to combat violence in a special city council meeting this week, including, among other things, a midnight curfew.

“Curfew is a suggestion that council wants to entertain and curfew has come up more than once,” Kemah Mayor Terri Gale said.

The move comes after another violent incident on 6th street, the “Lighthouse District” lined with bars like Voodoo Hut, which hosted a community meeting Monday night to discuss the issue.

“This is insane. Welcome to 2020, right?” said Harry White, Voodoo Hut owner.

White proposed that bar owners in Kemah like him raise their sales tax to 1 percent to fund more security for the area. He also proposed parking a “ghost car” in the area or building a substation on 6th street, among other things.

“There’s an incredible strain on our police department right now," Gale said.

Two officers patrol the city of about 1,500 at a time, including on the weekends, she said, compared to four to five officers at a time last year, including a canine officer.

Some 80% of the city’s revenue comes from sales tax, which has dropped about 20% during the pandemic, forcing the drastic cuts.

But a curfew is the wrong answer, according to White and others at the community meeting.

“Where are my people going to work?” White said. “They make their lion’s share of the money at that time.”

White warned the city would face a “big lawsuit” to “protect our constitutional rights” if the council voted to enact a curfew.

A man was shot on 6th street near the bars over the weekend. Several months ago, another man was stabbed at a bar on the same street, and in December, Manny Skaris died one day after he was beaten badly for trying to break up a fight near the bars.

The suspect in that case has not been caught.

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