CHICAGO, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- State Sen. Barack Obama joined a trade association representing Chicago bar and nightclub owners Wednesday in proposing tough new laws to improve nightclub safety in the wake of last week's stampede at the E2 nightclub and tragic fire at The Station in West Warwick, R.I.
"We need some standardization of safety procedures across the state," said Obama, a candidate for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination in Illinois.
Proposals endorsed by the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association include a ban on Mace, pepper spray and pyrotechnics -- except in outdoor stadiums -- and requirements for panic bars on doors. Venues would have to announce where the exits were and it would be a felony to block exits.
The proposals are aimed specifically at business that serve alcohol and do not prohibit local jurisdictions from enacting their own safety regulations.
A grand jury reportedly has issued subpoenas for information and evidence in the Feb. 17 stampede that killed 21 people at the E2 nightclub. At least 97 people died in last Thursday's Rhode Island club fire.
Sources told the Chicago Sun-Times no witnesses had been called as police and prosecutors continued to interview survivors of the E2 stampede.
Judge Daniel Lynch Tuesday ruled the club's lawyers cannot publicly release a 60-minute security videotape of the panic at 2 a.m. Attorneys for victims argued releasing the graphic tape, shot from six camera angles, would be too traumatic for the families of the 21 club-goers trampled to death after guards used pepper spray to break up a fight between two women on the dance floor.
At least 50 patrons were injured in a pileup of bodies on a steep 4-foot-wide stairway at the club's main entrance.
Three more wrongful death lawsuits were filed Tuesday and the city of Chicago was added to an amended lawsuit accusing the club owners of negligence. At least 13 lawsuits have been filed.
"We do need a credible investigation, and a special prosecutor would have the power to rise above these circumstances and make that happen," said Jackson.
Kyles faces criminal contempt charges for allowing the club to operate despite a Housing Court order issued in July closing the second floor because of building code violations.