Chicago’s mayor Lori Lightfoot has announced a new measure for the city to hold gang members accountable: by suing them and seizing their assets as a means of destabilizing them.
“What we’re proposing is a tool in civil courts that gives us the opportunity to go after those gangs that are wreaking havoc and, in particular, 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,” Lightfoot said on Tuesday.
Under the new ordinance, gang members can be fined up to $10,000 for a single incident.
Lightfoot’s comments came following similar condemnation in August after the death of a police officer, when she cited guns and gangs as “a common enemy”. “We have to continue striking hard blows, every day,” she said at the time.
The mayor came into office in May 2019 and made it a top priority for her office to tackle the city’s high rate of violence, but the rate of homicides has climbed 50% under her watch, part of an uptick seen across the country during the pandemic. According to data released by the Chicago police department, gang-related homicides were the highest among all other categories of homicides in 2019 and 2020, and shot up in the second year.
While there’s no considerable recent data available specifically on gang violence in the city, it is intricately linked to the city’s high gun-violence rate, and former gang members have testified that guns play a large role in gang violence.
The measure still needs to be approved by the Chicago city council, and will be reviewed by the rules committee on Friday.