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Sen. Durbin brings Senate Judiciary Committee to Chicago for hearing on gun violence

Attorney General Merrick Garland said 2021 spike in homicides in Cook County “bothers me very much.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Chicago’s rise in crime “is a terrible thing,” noting it started last year and continued into this year.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said Chicago’s rise in crime “is a terrible thing,” noting it started last year and continued into this year.
Tasos Katopodis-Pool/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, brings the panel to Chicago for a field hearing Monday on gun violence in the city.

The hearing, titled, “Combating Gun Trafficking and Reducing Violence in Chicago,” will be at the Dirksen Federal Building, 219 S. Dearborn St., and comes as the Chicago area continues to grapple with shootings.

According to the Cook County medical examiner’s office, as of Nov. 30, there were 1,009 homicides in Cook County, with 927 gun related. Most of the homicides were Black victims.

The last time Cook County homicides topped 1,000 was in 1994, with 1,141.

According to the Chicago Police Department, there were 754 homicides in the city through Dec. 4, the most recent data available.

“As Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I felt it was important to bring this hearing to Chicago — a city that is all too familiar with the devastating cycle of gun violence and the trauma it leaves behind,” Durbin said in a statement.

This will be the first time the Judiciary Committee has a Chicago hearing with Durbin wielding the gavel as chairman.

“I’ve worked for years to try to stem the flow of illegal guns and to promote common-sense gun safety measures, and I’m glad we now have a White House that shares this commitment. This hearing also provides an opportunity for a broader conversation about public health approaches to prevent and reduce community violence. We will hear from federal agencies that are playing a key role in these efforts, and I am committed to doing all I can to help make our communities safer,” Durbin said.

AG GARLAND ON SPIKE IN SHOOTINGS: ‘THIS BOTHERS ME VERY MUCH’

In July, Attorney General Merrick Garland, a Chicago native raised in Lincolnwood, and Durbin were in Chicago to launch a new federal effort to combat gun violence across the country.

It was Garland’s first official visit back to Chicago as AG, and he called gun violence an ongoing tragedy: “I feel it particularly in my hometown,” he said. There were three mass shootings that day in Chicago.

At a Justice Department news conference Monday on another issue, Garland took questions and at the end was asked about crime in Chicago, with the question prompted by the Cook County medical examiner’s sad report of more than 1,000 victims in Cook County so far in 2021.

Garland was asked, “What’s the plan?”

He replied, “It is a terrible thing,” noting the rise in crime started last year and continued into this year.

“As you no doubt know, I visited my home city of Chicago and we established gun violence trafficking task force there and I met with the chief of police, I met with all the federal law enforcement and I met with this state and local law enforcement in length.”

Garland also noted that last May, “We announced an anti -Violent Crime Initiative, which focuses very much on establishing these kinds of Joint Task forces with state and local police agencies combined with all of our federal law enforcement so that all the tools available to the department are used to help our state and local partners.

“We also have reinvigorated the Safe Streets task forces, which have been in effect for quite some time, all of which is to say that this bothers me very much and the violent crime increase is one that we must address, that we are putting all of our resources toward.”

WHAT ELSE OBAMA DID WHILE IN CHICAGO LAST WEEK

During former President Barack Obama’s rare visit back home last week with events on Thursday and Friday — he did behind-the-scenes courting of his Obama Foundation donor network.

Obama and Foundation President Valerie Jarrett hosted a lunch for about two dozen folks at the Penthouse in Hyde Park. Obama mingled a bit and during the lunch talked about the Obama Presidential Center under construction in Jackson Park. He stayed about an hour taking questions.

The former first couple, when they make public outings in Chicago to meet with civic or community leaders or youth groups, often like to surprise participants instead of telling them ahead of time.

Tweeted the foundation on Friday, “Surprise! Last night @BarackObama was in the neighborhood, so he joined folks from @ChicagoSky and @ChicagoBulls at the South Side YMCA, not far from the future Obama Presidential Center.”

The former first couple also toured the trauma center of the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital and passed out holiday gifts.