High Noon for Gang Members in Illinois Town?

April 15, 1999 12:00 am

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CICERO, IL — The one-time home of Al Capone’s bootlegging operation may soon become the least gang-friendly town in America, a place where miscreants will be marched across the town limits with orders to get lost and stay lost, Associated Press reported today.

Cicero’s proposal to deport gang members won 95 percent of the vote in city elections this week. But, as AP reports, civil libertarians said folks with this kind of get-tough mentality might need their heads examined.

“Some ordinances are unconstitutional, but this one is unconstitutional as hell,” said Dan Polsby, Northwestern University law professor. “They would be declaring that a human being is contraband because of something they claim to be and then punishing them with exile.”

Jay Miller, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, called the measure a public relations ploy.

“They’re playing games and wasting taxpayer’s money,” he told AP.

Cicero’s targets are “known” gang members with criminal records, town president Betty Loren-Maltese told AP. She said police already have compiled a list of 600 members. The ordinance also would apply to minors, she said.

“The parents are going to have to do what I call tough love,” she told the news service. “They should not be living at home with their mommies and daddies anyway.”

According to AP, the gang ban would be enforced in conjunction with the town’s nuisance ordinance, which fines owners of property where known gang members live $500 a day until the individual has left the premises.

Miller told AP that the ACLU plans to represent the first person ousted from Cicero under the new ordinance.

This is not the first time the ACLU has battled anti-gang laws in Illinois. In December 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the ACLU’s arguments in its challenge to the City of Chicago’s anti-gang loitering ordinance. See /news/n120498a.html .

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