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East St. Louis Chief Defends New Measures As ACLU Questions Them

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Parks
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EAST ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - There has been a slow start to the sweeping arrests promised Wednesday by the East St. Louis mayor.

So far, Police Chief Michael Floore reports only one arrest: a man caught loitering who was searched and found to have a crack pipe on him. The chief blames the delay on a backlog of cases.

“We had a horrific weekend with murders, we had four murders, we still got our officers tied up trying to complete the investigations,” Floore said.

When asked if there are any aspects of Mayor Alvin Parks’ plan that Floore has legal questions about, the chief responded with a resounding “no.”

Privately, some police sources in the department say they have problems with the legality of arresting minors for wearing blue or red, impromptu searches, and arresting people for not carrying state identification.

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois says it’s concerned with arresting people for wearing so-called gang colors without a direct link to some criminal activity.

“There are two aspects of the East St. Louis proposed measures that give us pause of concern and deserve monitoring,” Edwin Yohnka, Director of Communications and Public Policy for the ACLU of Illinois, told KMOX.

“First, police should not be targeting individuals for detention or arrest based on their clothing color or design. There is an exception in this if the color of clothing is being used to identify a particular suspect. But, as a general rule, it simply should not and cannot be illegal to wear a particular color of clothing. Innocent people – youths and others – will be swept up and detained without reason (eating up precious law enforcement resources) simply for the color of their clothing. This is dangerous and impermissible.”

“The other problem area is that the Mayor’s public remarks appear to ignore the reality that any enforcement of the curfew law needs to include and exemption for First Amendment activity – political activity and religious activity. We’d hope that young people who are, for example, engaging in the political process in this election year are not detained unnecessarily.”

But Chief Floore said it will all be handled properly and within constitutional limits.

“So it’s not just going out all vigilante, locking you up because you’re on the street,” Floore said.

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