Coronavirus Diary (16): One State, One Curfew

12:45 pm: After some online searching, and some inquiries to Newark residents, I so far have not been able to confirm the basis of the claim I make in this post, but having made it, I don’t want to delete it as though I hadn’t written it. So I’ve decided to leave it up, but cross the whole thing out. It may be true, but I simply cannot determine its truth with any reliability. The closest I came was this article, but it says something different. (See this as well.) I’ll keep looking into the matter insofar as I can. Obviously, the ethical point I was making stands: there should be one curfew throughout the state.

I haven’t been able independently to confirm this, so I can’t treat the information as iron-clad truth. For that reason, treat everything I say in this post as a hypothetical, conditional on confirmation of the fact on which it’s based. In any case, someone I know who happens to be a pizza delivery person in Belleville told me that while the statewide curfew in New Jersey is 8 pm, the curfew for public housing in Newark is 6:30 pm.

I can’t be sure whether this is true, but if it is, I don’t see how it’s fair or can be justified. Whatever the justification, it ought to be reported and discussed more forthrightly than it has.

The curfew is probably the most questionable part of the (otherwise justifiable) lockdown in New Jersey, but if we are going to have a curfew at all, we should have one curfew for every resident of this state, not 8 pm for suburbanites and 6:30 pm for residents of public housing (or urban public housing, or public housing in Newark, or whatever is being implemented). If the state wants compliance with this lockdown, it has to enforce the law in a uniform way. If it doesn’t do that, it courts the possibility of public disorder.

NB: I’m not inviting such disorder, and certainly don’t hope for it. I’m simply pointing out what should be patently obvious: having discriminated against the residents of Newark for decades, it is deeply unjust to continue that tradition now. If you treat people like shit, they will eventually revolt. That’s something we can’t afford, and in any case, the contempt it expresses for others is a poor reflection on our moral character.

Either 8 pm for everyone, or 6:30 pm for everyone. Much preferably the former.

We wouldn’t be in this situation if people had taken social distancing more seriously earlier on. When the time for blame comes, I hope the relevant people–especially the relevant suburbanites, enjoying and abusing the privileges of suburban life, perpetually blathering about the moral defects of urban dwellers–look themselves in the eye.

I will do what I can to confirm or disconfirm the public housing curfew, and if there is a discrepancy, to demand a change.

11:15 am: Still in the process of checking this. One knowledgeable person I asked said he didn’t think it was true. I’ve deleted one of the more heated comments I made in the original post.

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