Chicago Mayor seeks to deflect blame for rising crime by pushing civil asset forfeitures

Chicago Mayor seeks to deflect blame for rising crime by pushing civil asset forfeitures
Lori Lightfoot (Image: YouTube screen grab)

Chicago, the nation’s third-biggest city, had more murders this year than any other city — more than New York, America’s biggest city, or Los Angeles, America’s second-biggest city.  Chicago led the country with 739 murders as of the end of November, up 3% from 2020.

The city’s mayor is now trying to deflect blame for the city’s soft-on-crime policies (including a left-wing prosecutor who has dropped charges against thousands of violent criminals, including killers) by proposing civil asset forfeitures that seldom recover much money from gang members.

Reason magazine reports:

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called again Monday for a new ordinance allowing the city to sue gang members and seize their property….similar to Illinois’ Streetgang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act. The ordinance would allow the city to file civil lawsuits against suspected gang members, recover damages, and forfeit property connected to alleged gang activity. “Gangs are violent, dangerous and ruthless,” Lightfoot said. “They do not care who they hurt in their quest for money and territory. We need to not just seize their cash, but their assets as well. We need to take away the profit motive by depriving them of blood money, along with locking them up.” “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….

Colleen Connell, executive director of the ACLU of Illinois, said … the Chicago City Council should “quickly reject the Mayor’s proposal to use a recycled city version of a harmful state civil asset forfeiture law.” Under civil asset forfeiture, police can seize property suspected of being connected to criminal activity without charging the owner with a crime. …”Taking property from people—including innocent family members and others—is not an effective way to reduce gun violence,” Connell said. “Similar attempts have been tried in surrounding cities, and the public promises of forfeiture of gang member assets did not materialize.”

Illinois attorney John Mauck told local news outlet WTTW earlier this year that the state statute is lightly used and rarely successful at recovering assets. Mauck represented three former Latin Kings gang members who were targeted under the state law. The cases against them were ultimately dismissed after seven years….A 2017 analysis by Reason of five years of forfeitures in Chicago found that the city had initiated more than 23,000 seizures for $150 million in cash and property over that period. The data, obtained by Lucy Parsons Labs, showed that, while forfeitures happened all over the city, low-income neighborhoods bore the brunt of asset forfeiture.

But most of that property was not recovered from gang members. A lot of it was automobiles, some of it taken from innocent people.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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