Chicago City Council Adopts New Gang Loitering Ordinance

Affiliate: ACLU of Illinois
February 16, 2000 12:00 am

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CHICAGO — It is disappointing and disheartening that a majority of the City Council today voted to reinstate the discredited gang loitering ordinance, an approach that failed both in the courts and on the streets.

Not only was the previous gang loitering ordinance found to be unconstitutional by the Illinois Appellate Court, the Illinois Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, but several different evaluations of Chicago crime statistics show the previous ordinance’s ineffectiveness as a law enforcement tool.

Every neighborhood in Chicago deserves — and should demand — safety and security. To be effective, however, law enforcement’s role in achieving safe neighborhoods must be focused. It must be defined by strategies designed to secure the arrest and conviction of persons engaged in serious, criminal activities. Loitering laws are a poor substitute for the comprehensive strategies that have proven effective in other cities.

The new ordinance will not address or abate the prevalence of crime in the City’s neighborhoods. Instead, enforcement of this ordinance adopted today will encourage the type of wholesale “street sweeps” used to enforce the previous law. This insures that thousands of innocent persons of color will be arrested for no good reason.

The ACLU’s news release about the previous Supreme Court decision can be found at:

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