Mayor Lightfoot presents a plan in which the city would pursue street gangs, but will it work?

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CHICAGO (TBEN) – On Tuesday evening, controversy was even more heated over a city of Chicago ordinance that would allow the city to sue street gangs – looking for money and other assets.

“We will hold you accountable,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday when announcing the proposal.

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The plan would allow city lawyers to sue. A judge could order the confiscation of money or property directly or indirectly related to the activities of street gangs.

Mayor Lightfoot touted the plan as an essential tool in the fight against gun violence in Chicago. TBEN 2 investigator Megan Hickey questioned Tuesday whether such an effort would really work.

These types of gang lawsuits are not unheard of. They have been used federally and for several years in Kane and DuPage counties.

But legal experts fear that in Chicago such lawsuits will be in vain.

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“In federal court you are dealing with organized street gangs – in many cases involving people in their 30s, sometimes even in their 40s – that carry large amounts of drugs,” said Eric H. Sussman of Reed Smith. LLP, a former federal prosecutor.

Sussman told me that these types of gang lawsuits have been successful in his experience in federal court. But he said the gangs that would be targeted in Chicago – “about 100 factions of street gangs,” according to the draft ordinance filed Tuesday – are different.

“In state court, most of these 15 and 16 year olds that they can’t even identify aren’t even facing adult criminal prosecution,” Sussman said.

Mauck & Baker lawyer John Mauck is very knowledgeable about gang prosecutions in Kane County.

“Most of the lawsuits ended in default judgments,” he said. “Either they didn’t serve the individuals or the individuals didn’t bother to come to court. “

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Mauck represents four people who were prosecuted in Kane County, but that lawsuit was dropped in 2018 over issues proving they were in fact gang members.

Mauck said that to his knowledge, government agencies in Kane County have never recovered a dime from gang members. And he thinks that will be the case in Chicago, too.

“They’re going to go after a bunch of gang members and get judgments and say, ‘Look what we’ve done,’ but that’s not going to accomplish anything,” Mauck said. “It’s for the show.”

But the Elgin Police Chief said there were positive benefits following three gang prosecutions between 2010 and 2016.

“The department noted a significant reduction in street gang activity during this period,” Chief Ana Lalley said in a partial statement.

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On Tuesday, Mayor Lightfoot said gang members are able to thrive by “flaunting a lavish lifestyle of car jewelry and guns.”

“To be very frank and clear, we are looking for their blood money – the money they profited by killing,” said Mayor Lightfoot.

Sussman and Mauck are still skeptical.

Lollipop: “Does this sound like a political decision to you? ”

Sussman: “I think this is clearly a political decision, and their response to the city’s failure to articulate a policy to prevent the shootings in the murders taking place in the city. . “

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The ordinance will now go to the city council by-laws committee and will be reviewed on Friday. Lightfoot said she hoped it would be reviewed quickly and sent to the Public Safety Committee.

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