Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's new ordinance that would allow the city to file lawsuits and go after gang members' and leaders' assets took another step forward Friday, but questions linger over whether the proposal will work.
The ordinance, which the Chicago Tribune reports could allow fines as high as $10,000 for each offense and give courts the ability to seize “any property that is directly or indirectly used or intended for use in any manner to facilitate street gang-related activity."
"We have a responsibility and an obligation to do everything we can to go after these individuals," the mayor said.
The proposal moved from the City Council's Rule Committee to the Public Safety Committee Friday.
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The measure has sparked concern from some activist groups who say it could unfairly target community members mislabeled as having gang affiliations.
"Criminalizing members of communities for things that are, one, out of their control and things that they have not done wrong is the wrong thing to do," said Taylor Norwood with the organization Good Kids Mad City.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois opposes the proposal, saying the city has a poor track record of protecting civil rights of those listed in the gang database.
"They had people on there who were 80 and 90 years old, there were people who had never been involved in any criminal activity, that the idea that they know who to target for this just doesn't bear out," said Ed Yohnka, ACLU of Illinois spokesman.
As the number of shootings and homicides in Chicago continues to surge, Lightfoot says the city must do everything possible to battle the gangs that have killed and wounded so many.
“We have an opportunity to bring these violent street gangs into civil court, out of the shadows, expose them for what they are," she previously said. “And if we’re successful, and I think we will be, take their assets and the profit motive for killing our babies.”
Lightfoot hopes a full council vote will take place next month.
If the ordinance passes, the CLU says every single lawsuit in which a gang member is sued will be contested.