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updated: 5/29/2013 10:00 PM

Senators want to target Chicago street gangs

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Associated Press

Illinois' two U.S. senators on Wednesday urged the nominee for U.S. attorney in Chicago to not only fight public corruption but to also redouble the battle against street gangs.

Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Dick Durbin asked Zach Fardon to put pressure on one of Chicago's largest gangs, the Gangster Disciples.

"I think it's completely within the capability of the United States government to crush a major urban gang," Kirk said during a joint appearance with Durbin. "Just think of what the greatest generation did here in Chicago, pretty much crushing the Capone organization."

Kirk acknowledged it would be a big project for Fardon. But Kirk said he will seek $30 million in federal funding to finance the effort, which he suggests should include mass arrests.

However, Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush is critical of the idea, telling the Chicago Sun-Times that Kirk's approach is "headline grabbing" and an "upper-middle-class, elitist white boy solution to a problem he knows nothing about."

He also said if there is $30 million for Congress to spend, better most of it be allocated for "job creation and job training," to address the gang problem.

Kirk says it's within the capability of the U.S. to crush the Gangster Disciples. He added it would be "payback for Hadiya Pendleton's death." He was referring to the 15-year-old high school honor student killed in January -- allegedly by members of a gang faction linked to the Gangster Disciples.

Rush, whose district includes Chicago neighborhoods that have been plagued by gang violence, said his criticism of Kirk is "not to excuse their activities." But he contends an arrest sweep "is not going to work. . It is not a law and order, lock `em up solution."

Rep. Mike Quigley, a Chicago Democrat who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, told the Sun-Times, "it is not easy getting money out of the House, worthwhile or not."

Quigley said he appreciates Kirk "going after a plague in Chicago," but he said he believes the focus for federal prosecutors and police should be on "prosecuting the most serious gun traffickers who put weapons in the hands of gang members."

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