Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to use the threat of civil lawsuits to target Chicago’s most violent street gangs was referred to the city council rules committee on Tuesday, slowing the mayor’s latest plan to stop the bloodshed in the streets of the city.
This committee is the traditional burial place of the legislation opposed by the mayor. Allied mayors usually execute the maneuver by convening two committees at the same time when introducing legislation.
But this time, Ald. Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez (33rd) used the tactic against Lightfoot. At the very least, it now adds an extra step to the legislative process, forcing the Rules Committee to hold a preliminary meeting to send it, presumably, to the Public Safety Committee.
Rodriguez Sanchez explained his reasoning to the Sun-Times.
“This is bad policy. And many civil rights groups oppose it, ”the alderman wrote in an SMS.
Former mayoral challenger Ja’Mal Green totally agrees.
Green argued that youth who are not gang members but simply associate with gang members would be unfairly targeted because their names are included in the Chicago Police Department’s deeply flawed gang database.
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Lightfoot introduced a separate order authorizing the police council she previously led to hear appeals from Chicagoans who believe their names were incorrectly included in the database of gangs.
“You will file claims against people affiliated with people who may be part of a gang. And then everyone has a trial. So you file claims against innocent people, ”Green said.
“If we can just sue people and file claims against a lot of innocent people, then these people in these communities should be able to file a class action lawsuit for their quality of life in their neighborhoods.
Chicago doesn’t have a gang problem. He has a “quality of life issue that results in people forming gangs,” Green said.
“Because of the conditions of these neighborhoods in which the city is not investing to change, it creates the underground economy and makes young people less optimistic and turn to crime. We need to invest in young people so that they don’t grow up and become criminals, ”he said.
Undeterred by the parliamentary maneuver, Lightfoot said aldermen who dare to oppose his plan to target gang leaders and “go after their blood money” will have to “answer to their constituents” .
The mayor said she “was not targeting local gangs” but rather “gang leaders” who “recruited and corrupted” a continuous pipeline of young people “by displaying a lavish lifestyle of money, cars, jewelry and guns “.
” People are scared. They are afraid of gangs. We must do all we can to address these fears, ”she said.
West Side Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), president of the City Council Black Caucus, added, “We bury dreams every day. “
Lightfoot had planned to expedite the order by presenting it directly to the Public Safety Committee. But after scheduling this Monday meeting, the chairman of the Public Security Committee, Chris Taliaferro (29th), abruptly canceled it.
The so-called “Victims Justice Order” would target gangs that engage in a “course or pattern of criminal activity” defined as “two or more gang-related criminal offenses” in Chicago within five years of ‘interval.
The mayor’s plan would authorize judges or court officials to impose fines of up to $ 10,000 for each offense and to seize “any property that is directly or indirectly used or intended to be used in any way to facilitate crime. activities linked to street gangs ”.
This is in addition to “compensatory damages for any loss, impairment or other harm caused by” Chicago street gangs. “
Using civil lawsuits as a weapon against street gangs is a tactic that has been tried in the suburbs for over 20 years with mixed results.
John Mauck, a lawyer who successfully defended four men against such a lawsuit in Kane County, called Lightfoot’s latest ploy “98% politics and 2% reality.”
But Lightfoot argued Tuesday that Chicago is an “autonomous entity” with the responsibility to act to stop the bloodshed on the city streets.
Although the suburbs have tried to prosecute gang members with mixed results, Lightfoot said she “spent a lot of time … learning the lessons of the past.”
The mayor said her ordinance “correctly targets the blood money these gangs have accumulated by killing innocent people in our city.”