News 4 examines legality of proposed East St. Louis laws


by Staff

Posted on September 26, 2012 at 9:44 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 27 at 11:06 AM

EAST ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - East St. Louis is imposing new measures to fight crime, but are they constitutional?

There are questions if some of the measures are even legal. 

For example, if you are walking down the street and don’t have a state-issued I.D. you can be arrested. Police will also stop cars and search for guns and drugs. 

There is also a ban on males wearing bright red or royal blue clothing. Additionally, young men can be arrested for loitering without warning.

All of these restrictions compliment a daytime curfew for those 17 and under that runs from 8am until 3:30pm, and a night time curfew seven days at week beginning at 10 pm for those 17 and under.

News 4 wanted to know how many of these laws would stand up in court.

Chet Pleban, a local attorney, says some proposed restrictions, like what colors can be worn, aren’t even worth considering.

“That’s silly,” he said. “Next question, that’s plain silly.”

Additionally, there is some complications with arresting someone for not having a state-issued ID.


An officer can not randomly approach a citizen and ask for an ID and arrest them if they don’t have one. There has to be probable cause or reasonable suspicion to detain the citizen. This is based on a recent US Supreme Court decision regarding illegal immigrants in Arizona.

Pleban says the same applies for pulling over and searching vehicles. There must be a reasonable suspicion before anyone can be stopped.



Authorities are able to arrest someone for loitering without giving warning, however.

Pleban warns many of the new ordinances will have a hard time holding up in court if they are challenged because they could be considered violation of a person’s civil rights.


The risk East St. Louis faces in having a law that is unconstitutional is that an arrest could be a civil rights violation and the city could be sued. 



East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks says the city will make sure it’s on solid legal ground before enacting the proposed laws.

Mayor Parks also says there are about 10,000 residents under 21 that could be affected by the new laws.  

Pleban says he appreciates the city’s efforts to crack down on crime, but they have to stay within the law.

“While I applaud their efforts to do what they’re trying to do- trying to control gang activity, the end doesn’t justify the means,” he said. “We have to live, even in East St. Louis within the framework of the constitution.”