Earlier today, Governor Rauner signed into law House Bill 3803, a measure that fixed the charge of unlawful gang conduct in Illinois statute. The charge has been used, largely with young men of color in Chicago, to arrest and charge individuals who are doing nothing more than being present in their own neighborhoods. The following statement can be attributed to ACLU of Illinois Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs Director Khadine Bennett:
Today, Governor Rauner helped bring a measure of sanity and fairness to the criminal justice system in Illinois – eliminating the charge of “unlawful gang contact” being applied to people who engage in no criminal conduct. These arrests – there were nearly 2,000 of them in Chicago during 2015 – resulted from such dangerous conduct as standing in one’s own yard, talking to neighbors or sitting on one’s porch.
The bill signed today simply requires that someone be engaged in a crime or other gang-related activity to be arrested and prosecuted for unlawful gang conduct. This reflects not just good policy, but aligns with our basic constitutional notions that police simply cannot arrest someone because they do not like who they are or where they are located.
We thank the Governor for seeing the wisdom in this position and Senator Toi Hutchinson and Representative Kelly Cassidy for championing this measure.