Chicago Mayor Wants to Fight Gangs by Seizing Assets

Lori Lightfoot wants to 'take away the profit motive'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2021 4:58 AM CDT
Chicago Mayor Wants to Go After Gangs' 'Blood Money'
Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot arrives at a funeral service for police officer Ella French at the St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in Chicago.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

(Newser) – Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the city is going to fight the gangs "wreaking havoc" in the city by seizing their assets. Under a new ordinance introduced this week, the city's law department would be able to sue gang members and fine them up to $10,000 per offense, the Guardian reports. Under the "Victims' Justice Ordinance," judges could also order gang members to forfeit property bought with the proceeds of crime. Lightfoot says the ordinance is a tool that would "take away the profit motive from them by seizing assets that they have been able to purchase because of their violent activity in our neighborhoods."

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"We have to push back against these violent criminal gangs and we have to take their blood money that they are profiting from, killing our children, our elders, and others," Lightfoot said, per ABC7. Under the proposal, at least half of the assets seized would go to the victims of gang violence. The measure is being reviewed by the city's Rules Committee and the city council is expected to vote on it next month.

Lightfoot has, however, faced a lot of pushback from critics who call it a PR move and argue it would disproportionately target Black and Latino residents. Critics say the city's database of gang members is full of errors and similar measures have failed to reduce violence elsewhere. "My prediction: We’ll take a lot of Camrys and Civics from unsuspecting grandmas, they’ll sue a bunch of poor people ... and it’ll do nothing to actually stop shootings,” Cook County Public Defender Sharone Mitchell said, per WTTW. (Read more Chicago stories.)

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