Chicago has been one of the most dangerous places in the country to live for the last several years with gang shootings wracking the city. To address this plague of gangs, Senator Mark Kirk (R, IL) proposed that some 18,000 gang members be rounded up and prosecuted. Now several African American leaders in Chicago are lambasting Kirk for his idea and one former gang member turned Congressman is demanding a meeting with the Senator.
Early in May, Senator Kirk succumbed to utter frustration over the powerlessness of the Chicago police to stop the violence and demanded that the federal government step in and take over.
Speaking of High School cheerleader Hadiya Pendleton, a teen killed during gang violence in 2012, Kirk said of the gangs, “I would like to crush them, because they shot Hadiya.”
“My top priority is to arrest the Gangster Disciple gang, which is 18,000 people. I would like to do a mass pickup of them and put them all in the Thomson Correctional Facility. I will be proposing this to the assembled federal law enforcement: ATF, DEA and FBI,” the Senator said.
Kirk has noted that the law enforcement community has met his idea with skepticism but law enforcement isn’t the only sector of the city to find fault.
Even as it is Chicago’s African American community that has borne the brunt of the gang violence, several black leaders are banding together to claim that Senator Kirk is looking to implement a “racist” policy.
Representative Bobby Rush (D, Chicago)–himself a former member of the Black Panthers gang–called Kirk’s plan a “white boy” policy.
“I am really very upset with Mark,” Rush said late last month. He went on to say that Kirk’s approach was an “upper middle-class, elitist, white boy solution to a problem he knows nothing about.”
Rep. Rush has announced that he’ll meet with Kirk over the issue. Senator Dick Durbin will also be in attendance.
Rush isn’t the only critic in Chicago’s African American community. Fred Hampton Jr., the son of slain Black Panther leader Fred Hampton Sr., is demanding Kirk abandon his plan.
Hampton is calling the plan a “war on blacks.”
“This is nothing other than a euphemism for an intense war to be waged against the black community,” said Hampton Jr.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Hampton, who chairs African American groups the Prisoners of Conscience Committee and the Black Panther Party Cubs, made his statements during a small protest outside Senator Kirk’s Chicago offices on June 3.
“Take into account the history of how the City of Chicago has used such language,” Hampton Jr. told the Chicago media. “What we’ve seen is, there was the war on drugs and guns. That war made it justified … to shoot young brothers in the back, to close public schools, to make mass arrests under the umbrella of a war on gangs or guns.”
Kirk’s office has made no statements on the protest or on his anti-gang proposal.