07/20/2013 12:15 pm ET

Sen. Mark Kirk Retreats On Mass Gang Arrest Plan, Concedes Idea Is 'Not All That Practical'


Illinois U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is taking a step back from his proposal to make sweeping arrests of the 18,000 members of the Gangster Disciples, one of Chicago's most notorious and violent street gangs.

The plan drew sharp criticism from Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush who blasted Kirk's idea as an "upper-middle-class, elitist white boy solution to a problem he knows nothing about."

After Rush unloaded his harsh words, the two met to discuss solutions to Chicago's rampant gang violence problem, and in a Thursday interview with WBEZ, Kirk conceded, “Bobby Rush has been somewhat correct in his criticism of me that a mass arrest all at once is not actually that practical."

Kirk first called the idea his"top priority" in May when he told Fox Chicago he'd like to "crush" the city's gangs.

"I would like to 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."

Kirk told WBEZ, the city's NPR affiliate, that he was outraged following the death of slain inaugural performer, Hadiya Pendleton.

Though he's abandoned the mass arrest strategy, Kirk said he still plans to target the city's gang problem by pushing for $500 million in extra federal spending on law enforcement.

On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee moved to allot $19.5 million to fight gangs of "national significance," including the Gangster Disciples according to Crain's Chicago Business.



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