Letter to the Editor: New city laws need revision

By Michael Haji-Sheikh

It has come to my attention that the City of DeKalb is interested in two ordinances detailing unlawful assemblies called “Section 52.92 “Unlawful Assemblies” and Section 52.93 “Weapons at Unlawful Assemblies””. These two ordinances are meant to work in tandem.

These two ordinances appear to have skipped the normal first step of going first to the Committee of the Whole before being sent to the City Council for First Reading. It went through First Reading at the Council during the Jan 11. meeting.

I watched the presentation given by the officer that included many references to events in other countries and other parts of the country. I was wondering about the thinking behind these ordinances and I had the sense that these ordinances still have a few flaws. I also wondered what the Illinois State statute is for the same issues. I believe that this ordinance in its present condition would affect our student body’s right to gather, celebrate, or protest.

In reading through the proposed ordinances, I can see areas that are inconsistent with similar rules given by the state statutes. You can look to the laws written for the National Guard for guidance. These statutes are 20 ILCS 1805/86 and 720 ILCS 5/26-1 which cover “Unlawful Assembly” and “Disorderly Conduct” respectively. It is always important for the legislative branch of a city to defer to the State Legislature for legislative guidance.

I feel that the City of DeKalb should withdraw this ordinance and give it to the Human Relations Committee to go through some additional vetting due to several inconsistencies then reintroduce a leaner cleaner ordinance. This ordinance should then go to Committee of the Whole before returning to City Council for passage.