As crime continues to be an ongoing talking point in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is fighting back with a new ordinance that she says will hit criminals where it hurts — in their pockets. With her proposed Victims’ Justice Ordinance, Lightfoot wants to use a more-policing approach to curb violence.

Modeled after the 1993 Illinois Street Gang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act, the Victims’ Justice Ordinance is one that — if passed — would allow the city to file civil suits against those who engage in a pattern of gang-related activity, resulting in the forfeiture of their property.

Although Lightfoot first introduced this ordinance to the public in September 2021, the first time it was brought up to the City Council was in February. There, it was pushed back to allow for more clarity. On March 23, the ordinance was supposed to come up for a vote again at City Council. However, according to WTTW, no proponents for the ordinance met the 10:00 a.m. March 21 deadline to add it to the City Council agenda. So, the Victims’ Justice Ordinance was stalled.

“You have the Illinois Justice Project who doesn’t support the ordinance and you have the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) who issued a statement that says that they don’t support the ordinance. Then the Civil Lawyers Association, they put out a letter saying they don’t support the ordinance. There are over 40 organizations who don’t support the ordinance,” said Gregory Chambers, policy organizer of the Chicago chapter of Live Free, a faith-based organization for people of color against mass incarceration and violence. He first spoke to The TRiiBE at Lightfoot’s West Side Community Safety Town Hall, which was held in Garfield Park on March 19.

On March 23, The TRiiBE attended another of the mayor’s Community Safety Town Hall meetings. This time, it was held at Chicago State University on the South Side. Although our question to Lightfoot and the panel of city leaders about the expected impact of the Victims’ Justice Ordinance on marginalized communities wasn’t chosen, we spoke to attendees and city residents about their thoughts on the proposed ruling. 

“People that are actually committing the crimes don’t actually hold anything of value. You think they got bank accounts? You think they own homes? You think the cars in their name?” Englewood resident Vincent Greene, 39, said. He said the ordinance won’t work because gang members don’t hold onto assets of value, such as homes and bank accounts. The ordinance would only result in a big waste of time and taxpayer dollars. 

Most importantly, Greene said, the ordinance would inconvenience relatives and friends who are not involved in any crime.


“So what are you gonna take from me? My car? But nine times out of 10, if I’ve been in the streets all my life, these cars [are] in my baby mama name, my cousin’s name, my mom’s name,” Green told The TRiiBE during the South Side town hall. “If you are a smart street dude, cash is king.”

Loren Jones, a 29-year-old resident of Chicago’s 4th Ward, echoed Greene’s sentiments.

“It can affect people that are related to people who are potentially getting convicted for crimes, and their assets and their livelihood, unfairly. And I think that at the end of the day, it’s not going to change a lot of what we’re trying to address with the crime rates,” Jones said.

Although the murder rate dropped 6% from last year, robbery rates increased 11%, burglary rates jumped 36% and theft rose 70% within a year, according to a report by the Chicago Police Department (CPD). 

As a former Chicago police officer, Chambers says that although he respects the police and thinks they are doing a good job, they need to do a better job at building trust within the community. 

“Glenn Brooks, the director of community policing, is doing a good job of trying to bridge the gap between community and police. But it’s not good enough, because the community still doesn’t trust the police,” he said.

Before the South Side town hall began, Sauganash resident Bobby Vanecko, 26, told The TRiiBE he was confused when he first heard about the ordinance. He thought civic asset forfeiture already existed.

“I had heard of asset forfeiture already, like in law school,” said Vanecko, a recent graduate of Loyola University’s School of Law. “So I was kind of surprised. I didn’t know what to make of it.”

As a law student, Vanecko has worked with clients who have had their cars seized because they allegedly were connected to a crime. According to the Illinois Drug Asset Forfeiture Procedure Act, “Personal property subject to forfeiture under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, the Cannabis Control Act, the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, or the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act may be seized by the Director of the Illinois State Police or any peace officer upon process or seizure warrant issued by any court having jurisdiction over the property.” 

The main difference between the Victims’ Justice Ordinance and the Drug Asset Forfeiture Act is that the proposed ordinance would allow for the civil suit of gang leaders, holding them liable to damages up to $10,000.


Venecko believes the new ordinance will only further attack marginalized communities. A better solution to crime, he said, is GoodKid MadCity’s Peace Book Ordinance, which would redirect 2% of CPD’s budget to addressing root causes of violence. 

“When I heard it was going to be connected to alleged gangs, that’s when I knew it would be through the gang database, which I had also done a lot of research on in law school. And I read that whole report from the inspector general, where he said it was riddled with errors,” Venecko said.

Ebony Ellis is a 24-year-old 7th Ward resident. She believes crime can be addressed through togetherness instead of conflict.

“Maybe [city officials should] get close to them and try to learn about their background. What can the city do to help to try and attempt to be more in community with them, instead of just two forces working against each other?” she said.

is a freelance contributor for The TRiiBE.