Speaking about Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), Gingrich said: “You have a congressman who represents the most violent city in America. You have a congressman who represents a city in which over 500 people were killed last year, 74 percent of them African-American. You have a congressman who represents a city in which 80 percent of the killings, according to police, are by gangs.”
“Gangs have increased… by 40 percent since this president was elected,” he said. “There is no federal program to stop it. No one wants to have an honest conversation about it. So you have a congressman whose own district is bleeding, who puts on a hoodie as a symbolic act, but he doesn’t do anything about the gangs in his own district.”
Rush looked surprised. “That’s a charge Newt, that doesn’t hold water. I hav been working relentlessly since I’ve been in Congress, even when you were speaker in Congress and did not want to hear of these matters, I have been working on trying to deal with this violence. I am astounded and ashamed by this violence.”
Rush added that he’s organized the Congressional Black Caucus to come to Chicago later this month and hold a summit on urban violence. “This was before the [Zimmerman] verdict, we had planned this,” he said.
While Gingrich is right to say that gang membership is up in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s crime statistics, the bureau itself attributes the increase from 2009-2011 “primarily to improved reporting” as its first reason. It also cites opportunities with drug cartels, “gangster rap culture” and the prevalence of social media as a reason for “more aggressive recruitment” in recent years.
This is a subject Gingrich is surely familiar with, having written about FBI crime statistics in February with an eye toward the violence in Chicago. He took note that the FBI says most firearms used in gang violence are usually “acquired through illegal purchases; straw purchases via surrogates or middle-men, and thefts” — and claimed that as proof “new gun laws are very unlikely to stop the flow of guns to gangs.”
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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