Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Doubles Down on Calls for New Law to Seize Property From Suspected Gang Members

Lori Lightfoot of Chicago called for Monday a new ordinance to allow the city, in spite of opposition by civil liberties groups, to sue and seize property belongings from gang members.

Lightfoot, in a speech on rising crime and violence in Chicago, called upon the Chicago City Council, among others, to adopt a Victims Justice Ordinance, similar to Illinois’ Streetgang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act. This ordinance will allow the city’s civil litigation against suspected members of gangs, to recover damages and to forfeit any property related to alleged gang activity.

Lightfoot: “Gangs can be violent, dangerous, and ruthless.” . They don’t care about who they hurt when they are trying to get money or territory. We must not only seize their cash but also take their assets. It is necessary to remove their profit motive and lock them up. 

Lightfoot attempted to differentiate the ordinance from “rightfully discredited forfeitures” of 1990s, which were the focus of bipartisan reform efforts in the United States over the past decade.

“We will go into court, before a judge with a civil lawsuit where we will have the burden of proving that particular assets—cars, property, businesses—are in fact the proceeds of gang activity,” Lightfoot said. The defendants will be represented, and a judge will decide if our case has been proven. When we prove our case, we’ll dedicate part of the proceeds to Chicago victims, survivors, and witnesses.

Lightfoot was first The ordinance was proposedIt was released in September but was widely criticized by civil right groups who claim that the civil forfeiture legislation it is based upon didn’t keep its promises.

Colleen Connell is the executive director of ACLU of Illinois. A statement was made by the Chicago City Council in September that they should quickly reject the Mayor’s plan to use a modified city version of an unfavorable state civil asset forfeiture legislation.

The civil asset forfeiture law allows police to seize any property they suspect of being linked to criminal activity, without having the owner charged with a crime. 

Contrary to Lightfoot’s claims, defendants in civil cases, and not criminal ones, don’t have the right to hire a lawyer. They must pay the court costs to get their property back.

“Taking property from people—including innocent family members and others—is not an effective way to reduce gun violence,” Connell said. Similar efforts were made in nearby cities. However, the promises to forfeit assets of gang members did not come true.

John Mauck is an Illinois attorney TelledWTTW reported earlier in the year by local media that state legislation is rarely used to recover assets. Mauck represented the three Latin Kings gang members that were subject to state law. They were eventually dismissed from the case after seven years.

Freddy Martinez is the executive director at Lucy Parsons Labs’ police accountability non-profit Lucy Parsons Labs. He says Lightfoot’s plan “is another example of her administration’s poor and narrowly sighted approach to social problems.” She is doubling down the racist and failed ‘tough on crime’ policies she used in the 1980s.

Analysis of 2017By Reason The city of Chicago had more than 23,000 forfeitures for cash and other property in five years. Lucy Parsons Labs analyzed the data and found that asset forfeitures were most prevalent in the poorest neighborhoods of Chicago.

From a cashier’s check worth 34 cents up to a Rolls Royce Ghost 2010, the estimated value was more than $220,000,000. Also seized were a couple of bayonets, 12 cans worth of peas and 12 television sets.

“The research that we have provided to Why? Martinez states that it shows how police use these perverse incentives for taking money from everybody they can.” “Despite all of the talk, these programs take on average just hundreds of thousands. These programs are not going to bust Noriega.

Lightfoot spoke out saying that Chicago Police Department officers and others had taken nearly $27million in cash and $442million worth of drugs from the city in just one year. “And, we have to keep our foot on gas,” she stated.