Municipal Corporations – Statutory Liability for Mob Violence – Definition of Correctional Power

On August 12, 1947 eight Negro families moved into a Chicago public housing development which was occupied largely by white families. On the evening of August 14, several thousand people, protesting the Negro intrusion, congregated in the area, blocking traffic and brandishing bats, bricks, and stones. A large number of policemen were on duty at the scene. The automobile of the plaintiff, a Negro, was intercepted at an intersection by the crowd which began throwing bricks at the occupants of the car. The plaintiff was struck by one missile and suffered severe physical injury. He brought suit against the city under the Illinois mob violence statute, which gives a cause of action to any person injured by a “mob.” The statute defines a “mob” as ” … any collection of individuals, five or more in number, assembled for the . . . purpose of exercising correctional powers or regulative powers over any person by violence, and without lawful authority …. ” The trial court directed a verdict for the defendant. On appeal, held, reversed. The huge crowd, by supplanting the lawful but comparatively powerless authority of the municipality in the streets around the housing development, had assumed powers lawfully vested in the local authorities. The attempt to expel the Negroes from the area, an object which the crowd believed to be within the community interest, constituted the exercise of “correctional powers” by violence and without lawful authority within the meaning of the statute. Slaton v. Chicago, 8 Ill. App. (2d) 47, 130 N.E. (2d) 205 (1955).