Dick Durbin experiences firsthand gun violence in Chicago; Lightfoot urged to declare ‘public safety emergency’

US Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said on Friday that he had recently become the last Democrat to have a too close-for-comfort experience with urban crime.

The ordeal of the 76-year-old senator last weekend brought David Axelrod, a former top adviser to former president Barack Obama, appeal to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a fellow Democrat, has declared a “public safety emergency” in America’s third-largest city.

“Last Saturday night,” Durbin told reporters, “my wife and I went out to dinner, in downtown Chicago, with another couple—several couples—and we drove home on Lake Shore Drive about 10 p.m. Saturday night.

Suddenly, “I heard a popping sound,” Durbin recalled, according to Chicago’s WBBM-TV. “I didn’t know what it was. The driver of the car said, ‘Those are gunshots.’ It turned out to be the car next to us.

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“The driver [of the other car] leaned out the window and shot into the air,” the senator continued. “He might as well have fired the gun at us.

“Unfortunately,” he added, “that’s what happens far too often.”

Durbin and his wife were unharmed. But the senator’s experience came just over two months after a former Democratic colleague — former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer of California — was assaulted and robbed of her cell phone in Oakland, California.

In that incident, the 80-year-old Boxer was pushed in the back when the attacker grabbed her phone and then jumped into a waiting car, a social media post from her office said at the time.

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Commenting on Durbin’s story, former Obama adviser David Axelrod said Chicago Mayor Lightfoot should consider doing “what mayors don’t like to do,” according to Chicago’s FOX 32.

Axelrod said Lightfoot had to admit Chicago’s gun violence problem “is more than we can handle here at the city council,” and suggested voters could blame the mayor if shootings aren’t effectively addressed before she seeks re-election in 2023.

He advised Lightfoot to partner with local businesses, hire more detectives and encourage more members of the public to come forward as witnesses to help reduce crime, FOX 32 reported.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks in Chicago, July 23, 2020. Reuters

“We don’t need just one idea, we have to do it all at once,” Axelrod said.

Chicago saw its homicide rate rise 56% in 2020 and see higher numbers this year, according to FBI figures, Axelrod told FOX 32.

In late September, Lightfoot unveiled a $16 billion city budget plan calling for police spending to be increased to $1.9 billion, up from $1.7 billion this year. reported the Chicago Tribune:.

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