Sen. Dick Durbin went to the South Loop Wednesday to celebrate Walgreens’ decision to stay in Illinois — but he briefly found himself at the corner of heckling and unhappy.
The Illinois’ Democrat’s news conference took a bizarre turn when a former Republican congressional candidate drove an SUV into the frame of TV cameras and proceeded to heckle the state’s senior senator.
Durbin had just started to address reporters in the parking lot of a South Loop Walgreens, praising the pharmacy chain for deciding to stay put in the U.S.
Then the thump of hip-hop in the distance grew louder and former 2nd Congressional District candidate Paul McKinley rolled to a stop behind Durbin.
After turning down the blasting music, McKinley taunted Durbin from the drivers’ seat.
“Are you going to help the black community? You ain’t been helping us,” McKinley said. “You know who I am, Mr. Durbin. You ain’t never helped the black community … You going to send 18,000 people to jail this year in the black community.”
Then McKinley – who ran against current Democratic Rep. Robin Kelly for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s old seat in the 2013 special election — added: “See what you said about them illegals that coming in here.”
After a store security guard confronted McKinley, he drove away while booing Durbin.
Durbin did not address the interruption when he resumed the news conference, and his office did not respond to a request for comment.
When reached by phone later, McKinley boasted about his stunt.
And he added that he was heckling Durbin over remarks that were actually made by Republican Sen. Mark Kirk. In March, Kirk called for the mass arrest of 18,000 members of the Gangster Disciples street gang. While Kirk made the comment, Durbin appeared alongside him.
But McKinley accused Durbin of tacitly endorsing Kirk’s remarks by not repudiating the state’s junior senator. He then accused Durbin of supporting “amnesty” for those who recently crossed the southern U.S. border to escape brutal violence at home.
“He wants to give them amnesty, bring them to Chicago and make sure they have a Dream Act and then turn round and condemn my people,” McKinley said.
McKinley was trounced by Kelly in the 2013 special congressional election after he squeaked through the Republican primary. McKinley, a self-described reformed felon who did time for robbery and assault, ran on a platform of invigorating struggling neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side and south suburbs.
On Wednesday, McKinley said he was also forming a “boo committee” that will attend festivities tied to this weekend’s Bud Billiken Parade.
He explained that he and several like-minded individuals will offer a “hearty boo” to politicians — Durbin included — who have “not met community approval.”