One Illinois Representative believes that a fellow lawmaker is an “elitist white boy” who thinks that he can just incarcerate 18,000 gang members at the drop of a hat.
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) made the comments on Wednesday toward Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), who he believes is greatly disillusioned when it comes to solving the problem of gangs and gang violence in Chicago.
Earlier that day, Kirk and fellow Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) called on the attorney general nominee for Illinois, Zachary Fardon, to focus his efforts into putting street gang members behind bars. In addition, earlier this month, Kirk said in an interview he’d like nothing better than to see the 18,000 members of the Gangster Disciples, a prominent Chicago south-side gang, all put in jail.
"My top priority is to arrest the Gangster Disciple gang, which is 18,000 people,” Kirk told WFLD earlier this month. “I would like to amass pickup of them and put them all in the Thomson Correctional Facility.”
Kirk’s simplistic solution drew criticism from Rush, who called the plan an “upper-middle-class, elitist, white boy solution to a problem he [Kirk] knows nothing about.”
“I am really very upset with Mark,” Rush said to the Chicago Sun-Times. He then explained 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.”
Kirk also called upon federal agencies, such as the ATF, DEA and FBI, to help incarcerate the members, charging them with “drug dealing” and “murdering people, which is what they do.”
Rush, despite his own simplistic characterization of Kirk, does have a point—making concerted efforts to put gang members behind bars will not all of a sudden diminish gang membership. It will likely strengthen it if anything. So before making plans to incarcerate chronic criminals, there should also be a plan to prevent kids from joining gangs in the first place, as well as programs to help members break from gang life if they choose to do so.