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updated: 10/4/2013 11:38 AM

Chicago eyes crackdown on gangs during funerals

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Associated Press

Chicago gang members who have roared through intersections, driven on the wrong side of the road and even fired guns out of their car windows during funeral processions might have to walk to the next funeral, if proposed city ordinance is passed.

The ordinance was approved Thursday by the council's Committee on Public Safety and now moves to the full City Council, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

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The ordinance would add reckless driving during funeral processions to the list of offenses punishable by vehicle impoundment applies to everyone in the city, but while the sponsor of the ordinance kept any mention of gangs out of it to avoid any First Amendment challenge, he said it is absolutely aimed at their reckless and dangerous behavior during funeral processions.

"It will send a message to these fools: If you're going to act like an idiot in a funeral procession and not honor the dead the way you should -- if you carry on this way -- you're going to lose your car," said Alderman Matt O'Shea, who proposed the ordinance.

And, he suggested, gang members would take the ordinance seriously because "they need their cars to get around and commit crimes."

Violence during the funeral of gang members has been a problem in the city. Last year, after a reputed gang member was shot to death on the steps of a South Side church, Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared the funerals "gang events" and ordered police to attend in force and pat down attendees for weapons when they see fit.

O'Shea said things have gotten better since then, but that there remain problems, pointing out that a man died a few months ago during a funeral procession after driving into oncoming traffic.

The loss of the vehicles could prove expensive. Not only would the owners have to pay for towing and storage fees, they could be hit with administrative penalties ranging from $500-to-$700.

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