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As murders rise, Emanuel pushes for tougher anti-gang law

Chicago Police investigate multiple shootings thleft two dead five injured 2500 block E. 79th street Sunday night.  | TOM

Chicago Police investigate the multiple shootings that left two dead and five injured on the 2500 block of E. 79th street Sunday night. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 12, 2012 8:12AM

As murder skyrockets in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling on the General Assembly to pass a law to target gang members with federal-style racketeering cases.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-Riverside) passed the House with bipartisan support in March 2011. Sen. Tony Munoz (D-Chicago) is sponsoring the pending Senate bill.

“We cannot fight criminal gang violence alone and need additional tools to go after gangs in our city and throughout Illinois,” Emanuel said in a March 30 letter to Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago).

The bill was narrowed to focus only on gang activity — and doesn’t apply to political corruption or white-collar crime.

It allows racketeering prosecutions of anyone participating directly or indirectly in gang activity through violent crimes, gun and drug crimes or collection of illegal debts. A conviction would carry a prison term of 10 to 30 years, along with a fine of up to $250,000.

The mayor’s call for anti-gang legislation comes as murders rose 60 percent citywide for the first three months of 2012, compared to the same period last year.

According to the police, there were 75 killings last year and 120 this year through April 1. Most of those slayings were gang-related, the police said.

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