Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's proposed gang lawsuit ordinance draws more criticism

"Money? What are you going to take? I mean, they're trying to kill each other for the little peanuts that they're getting."
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot's proposed ordinance to go after gangs with civil lawsuits continues to draw criticism. It comes as a city council committee voted to remove a parliamentary hold on the measure, paving the way for a vote next month.

A former gang member who spoke to Eyewitness News said the proposed law would have very little impact on violence.

Oscar Contreras is a former, longtime gang member in Los Angeles. For the last 24 years, he has been a community outreach worker in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. When asked if the ordinance is going to change criminal behavior, he flatly answered "no."

He was asked how he thought gangbangers would respond.

"I've asked a lot of them especially in the Hispanic community, what do they think about it," Contreras said. "They laughed."

SEE ALSO | Former gang member discusses why young people turn to gangs

An attorney who successfully defended a gang member sued under a similar law in DuPage County says civil anti-gang measures can be tough to enforce. In Kane County, it's only been used four times in 13 years.

"There's a lot of ambiguous terms in it. It's a good faith attempt. I think it's going to be interesting it's going to wind up somewhere in the Appellate Court and then the Supreme Court," said Joe Lopez, a criminal defense attorney.

Outside City Hall before the committee meeting, a community group pushed for their own PeaceBook ordinance focusing on restorative justice. They were critical of the mayor's plan.

"The ordinance would do nothing to interrupt systematic violence and instead will contribute to our families destabilization," said Miracle Boyd, Good Kids, Mad City.

Alderman Ray Lopez, whose home and office has been vandalized three times by gangs, said the ordinance is smoke and mirrors.

"There's no asset of theirs that I can sue that will get them to stop what they want to do. What they want to do is to continue to terrorize neighborhoods and make people feel threatened in their own homes," said Ald. Ray Lopez, 15th Ward.

The mayor insists the ordinance is needed to give the city every tool possible to go after violent gangs, promising they will target leaders of well-organized ones.

Oscar Contreras notes that Chicago gangs nowadays are mainly small factions, not the organized enterprises they once were.

"Money? What are you going to take? I mean, they're trying to kill each other for the little peanuts that they're getting," Contreras said.
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