Democrat Rep. Bobby Rush’s recent tirade against Republican Sen. Mark Kirk’s plan for getting tough on the street gangs that have left the city of Chicago a killing field was truly eye-opening, and revealed a soft-on-crime approach.
When local media questioned Rep. Rush about Senator Kirk’s proposals, which include the mass arrest of more than 18,000 gangsters and a $30 million federal effort to curb gang violence, Rep. Rush referred to the proposals as, “an upper middle-class elitist white boy solution to a problem, he knows nothing about.”
Rep. Rush tried to walk back some of his initial comments in a follow-up interview with the Chicago Sun Times about Senator Kirk’s proposals with the standard Democrat talking points about government funded job training/creation, health care and housing. Rep. Rush added that Sen. Kirk’s plan was unworkable, in his opinion, “It is not a law and order, lock em up solution.”
What Rep. Rush did not knowledge was that his approach had been tried before in the 1990’s under the tenure of President Bill Clinton and his so-called “100,000 Cops Program.” Democrats and community activists proposed such programs as midnight basketball and job training programs, which were intended to curb gang violence in urban areas by giving unemployed youth ways to escape the pitfalls of their environment.
But the first real drops in gang violence only came when local and state governments got tough on crime with special police units in certain communities focused on the plague of gang violence. City and State Attorneys also focused on ending the revolving door in the criminal justice system by enforcing measures such as mandatory sentencing and federal “three strikes” laws, all of which elected officials like Rep. Rush have been opposed to from the start and have sought to weaken over the last few years.
Rep. Rush, in adding a racial component, may believe he will make Sen. Kirk’s approach to the violence that has gripped Chicago for the last few years unpopular to the residents of the city, who have seen everyone from infants to the elderly die in their streets at the hands of gang-bangers.
In reality, Rep. Rush is not offering any alternative, but a rehash of something that did not work in the past. The one proven approach that will end the violence on Chicago’s streets is to go after these gang-bangers with the full the strength of the Chicago Police Department, and to appoint City and State Attorneys who will ensure that convictions will stick with mandatory sentences. In addition, we must end the ban on citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights inside city limits, as the criminal gangs have no respect for the laws and dignity of life in Chicago.