Kirk, bipartisan coalition get $19M approved to help fight gangs - Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13

Kirk, bipartisan coalition get $19M approved to help fight gangs

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Sen. Mark Kirk. Sen. Mark Kirk.
Sen. Mark Kirk (left) with Police Supt. Gary McCarthy (right) Sen. Mark Kirk (left) with Police Supt. Gary McCarthy (right)
Nationwide Gang Presence per Capita per State Map handed out by Kirk at Monday's strategy announcement (Source: NGIC and NDIC 2010 National Drug Survey Data) Nationwide Gang Presence per Capita per State Map handed out by Kirk at Monday's strategy announcement (Source: NGIC and NDIC 2010 National Drug Survey Data)
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Senator Mark Kirk is on a crusade to get federal help to fix Chicago's gang problem and reduce gang-related crime in the city and across the nation.

Kirk said he was inspired to find a solution after 15-year-old honors student Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed. He announced the first details of that plan on Monday.

With help from a rare bipartisan coalition in the U.S Senate, Kirk has persuaded the powerful Appropriations Committee to approve $19 million for federal agencies to battle street gangs.

He hopes a large share of that money will flow to law enforcers here in Chicago and the suburbs. Proposals include money to hire more prosecutors and develop more effective community outreach.

Earlier this year, Kirk drew criticism by calling for the arrest of up to 18,000 Gangster Disciple members in the Chicago area. Congressman Bobby Rush dismissed that as a simplistic solution to a complex problem, calling it a "white boy" notion.

Kirk said he and Rush have already scheduled a "tour" of high-crime neighborhoods in Rush's First Congressional District.

"And I said to Bobby, ‘Take me to the worst of the worst, the places where politicians fear to go,'" Kirk said he told Rush. "And he said, ‘OK.'"

At the same news conference on Monday, Kirk disclosed he recently went on a ride-along with police through Chicago's South Side as part of his pledge to more fully understand of the link between gangs and violence.

He used the vernacular of the street to describe how police were called to the scene of a shooting where Kirk said, "One guy got popped."

The victim was a reputed gang member and survived a gunshot wound to his lower body, explained Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy, who accompanied Kirk on the ride-along through the city's South Side.

"It was one of those situations that we run into frequently," McCarthy said at the same news conference. "(The victim) was uncooperative. He didn't tell us what happened." There were no arrests in the case, he said.

Kirk's "Gangs of National Significance" initiative is supported by Senator Dick Durbin. The pair have also called on federal prosecutors to do more to target the guns, gangs and drugs that underpin violent crime in Chicago.

Sen. Kirk first revealed his plan on FOX 32 News several months ago, after two young men charged with Hadiya Pendleton's murder were first arrested.

Sources told FOX 32 they were linked to the Gangsters Disciples.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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