Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) want to battle deadly street gangs in Chicago. Kirk wants to round up 18,000 members of the city’s largest gang, the Gangster Disciples, to truly get a handle on the crime scourge.
“I think it’s completely within the capability of the United States government to crush a major urban gang,” Kirk said at a press conference with Durbin yesterday. “Just think of what the greatest generation did here in Chicago, pretty much crushing the Capone organization.”
Kirk and Durbin get along well and have worked on various bipartisan projects together. An Illinois Democrat in the House, though, had a less positive reaction to the Republican’s plan:
[Rep. Bobby] Rush, asked by the Sun-Times to react to Kirk’s proposal said in a phone interview: “It’s a sensational, headline-grabbing, empty, simplistic, unworkable approach.”
If there is $30 million for Congress to spend, better most of it be allocated for “job creation and job training,” to address the gang problem, Rush said.
Rush’s House district includes communities plagued by gang violence. He said his criticism of Kirk is “not to excuse their activities.”
Rush said an arrest sweep “is not going to work. . . . It is not a law and order, lock ‘em up solution.”
Rush said he would like to talk to Kirk, to “get him to see the bigger picture.” He added, “I am really very upset with Mark” and that Kirk’s approach was an “upper-middle-class, elitist white boy solution to a problem he knows nothing about.”
In a follow-up email, just to dig the hole a little more, Rush told the Sun-Times that Kirk’s “current plan does not include the option to create jobs, provide affordable and safe housing, quality health care and improve schools in urban areas, BUT certainly a plan to incarcerate 18,000 black men is elitist. Why is incarceration the sole option instead of rehabilitation which is proven to work and not locking young men up.”