CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed an innovative new law that will crack down on individuals who use electronic communication or social media to organize a violent flash mob. The legislation is designed to respond to a recent uptick in such crimes which have taken place in downtown Chicago. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure the safety of all people in every community across Illinois.
“Violent mob action, organized by social media or cell phone, is a troubling trend in cities and we must do everything possible to stop it in its tracks,” Governor Quinn said. “Nobody should have to worry about a violent mob attack when going about their daily lives. This new law will crack down on these flash mobs and help improve public safety and the quality of life in our cities.”
Sponsored by State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) and State Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago), Senate Bill 1005 allows a judge to hand down an extended prison sentence to anyone convicted of mob action who used social media or text messaging to organize it. This legislation is in response to a growing trend of large groups using social media such as Twitter and Facebook to organize flash mobs to commit crimes.
Current Illinois law allows judges to impose a one- to three-year prison sentence for those convicted of using social media or electronic communication to organize or solicit a violent flash mob. The new law, which passed the General Assembly with near unanimous support, will increase the penalty to three to six years in prison.
“Not only on Michigan Avenue, but throughout the city, criminal flash mobs have the capacity to discourage tourism and economic activity,” State Sen. Raoul said. “This new law sends a signal that we’re serious about creating a safe, welcoming environment, both for our residents and our guests.”
“This is not only about the crimes taking place downtown, but also about what’s taking place in neighborhoods throughout the city every single day,” State Rep. Mitchell said. “In the city of Chicago, gangs have changed. They are now using social networks to organize and mobilize violent activity. The intent of this legislation is to update our laws to reflect how people are using technology to organize crimes in our neighborhoods. If criminals incite others to commit violent acts, then they will be held more accountable.”
The new law takes effect immediately.