DOWNTOWN — The day after U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush criticized Sen. Mark Kirk's "elitist white-boy" suggestion on how to stem violent crime in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said no single approach was the solution.
Speaking at an unrelated event to tout industrial supplier W.W. Grainger's decision to add jobs at its Downtown office, Emanuel on Thursday was reminded of when he was point man for President Bill Clinton's 1995 crime bill. That legislation added stiffer penalties for some crimes but also provided funding for alternatives such as midnight basketball programs.
Clinton "was doing the kinds of things he needed to do to give kids an alternative [to violence] like midnight basketball, or making sure that we also had stiff penalties so that people paid a consequence for their crimes," Emanuel said.
"It’s not either or — you have to do both.”
Rush (D-Ill.) made his comments after Kirk (R-Ill.) met with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Zachary Fardon, the nominee for U.S. attorney in Chicago, and discussed his proposal for mass arrests of 18,000 members of the Gangster Disciples street gang.
Rush told the Sun-Times an arrest sweep "is not going to work. It is not a law-and-order, lock'-em-up solution."
He went on to call Kirk's approach "an upper-middle-class, elitist white-boy solution to a problem he knows nothing about," though he later tempered those comments, the Sun-Times reported.
On Thursday, Emanuel reiterated his contention that Chicago police are gaining ground in the war on violence.
“Our police are doing a very, very important job. They’re bringing our homicide rate down," he said. "They’re bringing our shooting incidents down. Overall crime three years in a row is down.”
Emanuel said that even without pursuing a strategy like the one Kirk was suggesting, law enforcement had to be aggressive in pursuing lawbreakers.
"The law enforcement community should be able at all levels to make sure that if you commit a crime you serve the time," he said. "The full force of the criminal justice system should come down on those who commit crime.”