WASHINGTON – The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday announced efforts to curb gun trafficking in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area and Washington, D.C., a day before President Joe Biden unveils a sweeping series of programs to deal with crime and violence.
Biden will deliver remarks on Wednesday, unveiling his comprehensive strategy to combat violent crime, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
Among those meeting with Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland at the White House on Wednesday will be Eddie Bocanegra, senior director at READI Chicago – the Rapid Employment and Development Initiative – a group dealing with Chicago’s gun violence.
Biden’s plans comes as cities, including Chicago, struggle with violent crime and, on the political side, Republicans aim to hurt all Democrats by labeling them as supporters of efforts to “defund the police,” a phrase that gained traction in the wake of last year’s police killing of George Floyd.
Psaki said Biden on Wednesday will talk about supporting additional funding for community policing and helping local governments “keep cops on the beat. So yes, we believe that a central driver of violence is gun violence and is the use of guns.”
In April, Biden announced an initial series of actions to address gun violence.
Biden wades into the crime issue as Chicago’s chronic gun violence problem was dramatically underscored when 52 people were shot, seven fatally, over the last weekend.
The Justice Department on Tuesday announced the launch of “five cross-jurisdictional firearms trafficking strike forces within the next 30 days to help reduce violent crime by addressing illegal gun trafficking in significant firearms trafficking corridors.”
The five strike forces will “focus on significant firearms trafficking corridors that channel guns into New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, D.C.,” the Justice Department said, to be led by U.S. attorneys “who will coordinate with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and with state and local law enforcement partners in places where firearms originate and where they are used to commit crimes.”
While Chicago has long banned the sale of firearms, weapons from Indiana, other states and Chicago’s suburbs make the city’s ban ineffective in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.
The concept of sending more resources to Chicago is not new. On July 22, 2020, John Lausch, Jr., the Chicago-based U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, joined then-Attorney General William Barr and then-President Donald Trump to announce the expansion of Operation Legend to Chicago.
Operation Legend was a consolidated push by local and federal law enforcement authorities “fight high levels of violent crime, particularly gun violence.”
Second Gentleman Emhoff in Chicago to push COVID vaccines
Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff – in his first official visit in Chicago – hits the city on Wednesday to push more people to get the COVID vaccine. Emhoff this month has been to Alabama, Florida and Tennessee as part of the administration’s drive. Vaccine reluctance – especially among those between 18 and 26 – means Biden will not meet his self-imposed goal of getting 70 percent of adults at least partly vaccinated by July 4.
In April, Vice President Kamala Harris made her first visit to Chicago since her election, when she, among other activities, toured a mass vaccination site run by the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399 hall at 2260 S. Grove St. She also made a stop at Brown Sugar Bakery at 328 E. 75th St. to highlight a Black, female-owned small business.
Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene headlining fundraiser for Illinois Rep. Mary Miller
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia Republican who compared pandemic mandates for masks and vaccinations to the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people, is headlining a fundraiser July 8 in Effingham for freshman Illinois GOP Rep. Mary Miller.
Democrats who control the House stripped Greene of committee assignments after the QAnon conspiracy booster and 9-11 denier threatened to execute Democrats, spread anti-Semitic tropes and pushed baseless claims about staged school shootings.
By throwing in with Greene, Miller, who represents a Downstate district, may create problems for other Illinois Republicans who would rather ignore Greene – while building up a base if she is thrown in a primary in 2022 with another incumbent Illinois House member.