City council approves crackdown on street racing; Lightfoot critic accuses mayor of ignoring issue

CHICAGO (CBS)– Aldermen on Wednesday approved an effort to crack down on illegal street racing and car stunts, a dangerous thrill that seems to be growing every weekend in Chicago, as one of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s toughest critics accused her office and the Chicago Police Department basically turn a blind eye to the problem so far.

As CBS 2’s Tara Molina reported earlier this week, it’s a problem that leaves a mess behind. So many concentric rings of tire tracks marred the intersection of Clinton and Monroe streets in the West loop after car enthusiasts used the middle of this intersection to make donuts last weekend, with large crowds cheering them on.

City Council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance that could provide a tool for police to combat such activity, by allowing police to seize cars involved in illegal street racing and known car stunts under the name “drifting”, even if the owner is not there when the car is found.

Ald town center. Brendan Reilly (42nd), who sponsored the ordinancesaid it would allow police to seize those cars days or weeks after such illegal street stunts, if officers are unable to do so when they occur.

“The drag racing and drifting problem really exploded during the pandemic. When most people were stuck at home, those people were taking advantage of lots of open rights-of-way and surface parking lots; not just downtown. , but in almost every neighborhood in the city of Chicago,” he said. “We can take a more aggressive approach and make sure accountability is met.”

Aldus. Raymond Lopez (15th), who announced he was running against Mayor Lori Lightfoot in 2023, and was one of her most vocal critics, said aldermen had tried six other times since 2019 to crack down on protesters. street racing, but the Lightfoot administration and Chicago police didn’t take it seriously.

“Nobody doing these acts, filming these acts, organizing these acts takes this government seriously when it comes to thinking that we’re actually trying to do something about it,” Lopez said. “We pretend and look the other way. Our residents don’t look the other way, folks. Our residents can hear the squeal of tires every weekend, every night. They can see it with their own eyes. The policy of telling our residents not to believe their lying eyes and not listen to their lying ears must end We must enforce, we must be accountable and we must recognize that until there is the will to do, it will continue weekend after weekend after weekend.”

Without responding to Lopez by name, Lightfoot denied that the city has turned a blind eye to illegal street racing.

“This is what I call silly season, and we will continue to hear nonsense from some people. It does a disservice to members of the Chicago Police Department to say they are unresponsive. This is a problem that has absolutely worsened through the pandemic,” Lightfoot said. “To suggest that the police are not responding or ignoring this is 100% wrong. These are extremely dangerous events, especially when you see the crowds gathering for the entertainment. Invariably, someone is injured, property is damaged. So it’s important that we deal with it, and the police department is very proactive about it.”

The city council-approved crackdown isn’t as simple as seizing a car involved in a stunt encounter and tagged on video or followed by police.

According to the order:

• Before confiscating a car, police are required to mail the owner of the car a “Notice of Intent to Confiscate”.

• The notice would include a statement of probable cause, a police report, a description of the vehicle, and the date and time of the offence.

• The car owner would have the right to challenge the impoundment.

It’s not just dangerous driving and tire tracks that are the problem. Sometimes participants in stunt driving events light a ring of fire in the street where people stand inside. During this time, armed fireworks were sometimes intended to respond to police officers.

Scenes captured in cellphone video posted to the Citizen app last weekend show street racers and stuntmen taking over West Loop and South Loop intersections.

None of the drivers have been charged or arrested. But Chicago police, responding to a call from drag races on South Canal Street, arrested a 17-year-old throwing fireworks at them.

The teenager was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer.


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