CITY HALL — A Southwest Side aldermen is seeking stiff fines and impounded cars for reckless driving in funeral processions in the face of gang activity at burials.
Ald. Matthew O'Shea (19th) said Mount Hope Cemetery in Morgan Park had become "the cemetery of choice for the Chicago metro gangbanger," leading to reckless driving and other dangerous activity, including crossing the center line while in a funeral procession.
He said one gang member died in a head-on collision last year after crossing the center line following a hearse to the cemetery.
"This has to stop," O'Shea said Thursday, as his ordinance cleared the Public Safety Committee. He said he was out to "curb this reckless activity ... [of] driving erratically" in order to "make community residents safe."
Southeast Side Ald. John Pope (10th) supported the ordinance, calling such drivers "idiots."
The ordinance calls for fines of $500 to $750 for reckless driving in a funeral procession, and allows for the impounding of an involved car under police discretion, making the owner of the car responsible.
Aldermen clarified that the ordinance does apply to all funeral processions, not just those involving known gang members, and a stolen car would be a legal defense for the owner.
It passed without opposition and headed for a full City Council vote later this month.
In September 2012, some 200 area residents staged a protest at Mount Hope over the gang processions, with one Beverly man recounting how he once saw a topless woman hanging out the window of one of the cars going to a funeral.
The man told the Sun-Times that police had been forced to respond to incidents connected to the gang funerals some 200 times in three years, including investigating fights and reckless driving.