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East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks

East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks on Feb. 22, 2012. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

EAST ST. LOUIS • In response to a deadly two days, in which four people under 21 were killed, Mayor Alvin Parks announced Wednesday that a curfew is being enforced effective immediately for the city's youths.

Parks said teens under 17 will be picked up by police if not in school between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. They will be arrested if out after 10 p.m. without a parent.

Other activities also will be restricted, he said, allowing youths only to attend school, after-school programs, church and work unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. He also cautioned male residents against wearing royal blue or bright red clothing commonly associated with gangs. They could get picked up, too.

"There should be no reason for our kids to be running to the store," Parks said. "I know it's extreme, but right now our children are in danger."

Three young men were fatally shot early Sunday morning in the parking lot of Club VIP, 6830 State Street, after a fight broke out. Two others were treated and released from hospitals for wounds related to the shootout. So far, no arrests have been made.

Less than 24 hours later, an 18-year-old was stabbed to death in the 800 block of 80th Street during a dispute. St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly said a suspect was charged with first-degree murder.

"It's extremely frustrating," Parks said. "That could have been my oldest daughter out there when she was that age, going to teen night at Club VIP. It devastates a community this small. We cannot tolerate our young people being taken away from us … like this."

Last week, Kelly said officials from several agencies were using strategies in East St. Louis that had worked for other jurisdictions to curtail crime. He highlighted statistics showing a year-to-date 30 percent drop in homicides in 2012 from 2011.

That was before the four slayings over the weekend.

Police Chief Michael Floore implored residents to take a more active approach in their children's lives.

"Everybody needs to know where their children are," he said. "In the daytime, school should be in. If anybody's under 17 and not in school, we're going to deal with them. But the Police Department can't do this alone. We just want to make sure these kids are going to school, make sure they're not on the streets."

He said his department will partner with several agencies, including the Illinois State Police, to beef up patrol in areas known for having high crime.

"Is it going to work? I don't know that," Floore said. "But we've got to do something."

Marlon A. Walker covers Illinois general news for STLtoday.com and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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