Pubdate: 13 March 1999
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 1999 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Emile Schepers
Note: responding to Mayor Richard Daley's announcement 
         that he would copy New York City's plan to confiscate
         the cars of suspected drunk drivers.


CHICAGO -- In Gary Washburn's Page 1 March 4 article in the Tribune,
"Daley out to seize autos in DUI cases," there is mention of the
city's effort to change the 1982 Alliance Consent Decree, which
prohibits police spying on the political opposition. The phrasing
used--"Daley also has run afoul of civil libertarians as he seeks to
ease restrictions on the surveillance of possible criminal activity. .
."--is not accurate. What the city seeks is permission to spy on any
and all organizations it chooses to classify as radical.

The city already has full authority for any criminal investigation
that it might want to carry out, whether this involves private
citizens or public figures. Under the old Red Squad, groups like the
League of Women Voters and the Methodist Church were considered
dangerous radical hotbeds and were subjected to intensive police
surveillance and even disruption of their constitutionally protected
activities. The danger of a return to such outrageous practices is
what "civil libertarians" such as myself consider to be foul.

Further referring to the anti-loitering ordinance, which the city is
now contesting in the Supreme Court, you should note that the
anti-crime group CANS (Chicago Alliance for Neighborhood Safety)
re-examined the basis on which the police made claims of the
effectiveness of this ordinance, and came to conclusions radically
different from those of the police, calling into question the real
impact on crime of this ordinance.

In all of these things, the mayor uses the citizens' fear of street
crime and miscellaneous mayhem to justify a cavalier attitude toward
the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution, and to get around the
fact that in this country, the accused are supposed to be considered
innocent until proven guilty.

Emile Schepers, 
Program director, 
Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights

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