CHICAGO — With homicides and shootings in 2021 both up more than 60% prior to the pandemic, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is defending one of her strategies to fight crime, designed to go after gang money.  

The plan is under fire from attorneys across Chicago and Cook County. 

The Victims Justice Ordinance was introduced in September and would allow the city to sue people involved in gangs and seize assets and property bought with what the mayor calls “blood money.” Fifty attorneys have signed a letter urging Mayor Lori Lightfoot to withdraw the ordinance, and the Office of the Cook County public defender has acted similarly.

Critics of the ordinance fear the move will lead to the over-policing of Black and Brown communities and target people who may not be involved in such criminal enterprises. 

The mayor says Chicagoans shared with her that they want her to utilize every tool in the toolbox to lower crime and go after gangs. 

“It’ll be transparent and we intend to do that,” Lightfoot said. “We’re not going to be focused on the guys on the corner. We’re going to be focused on the shot callers, the people who are actually, really making the money as a result of the illegal gun trade and the ones that are really wreaking havoc in our communities.”

Lightfoot calls the ordinance a surgical tool in which a judge will decide whether the city meets the burden of proof in each case. 

Lightfoot addressed the concerns via Zoom from Washington DC as she attends the US Mayor’s conference. 

City council members will hear testimony on the Victims Justice Ordinance on Friday.