[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – In a letter to East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks and members of the East St. Louis City Council, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly today said that extending night club hours in East St. Louis will increase the risk of violence and killings while undermining federal law enforcement efforts that Durbin has fought to bring to East St. Louis. Their letter was sent following a report by the Belleville News-Democrat that the East St. Louis City Council is prepared to vote on a proposal that would allow nightclubs in the city to remain open 24-hours.
The text of the letter is below .
June 20, 2013
Alvin L. Parks Jr.
City of East St. Louis
301 River Park Drive
East St. Louis, IL 62201
Dear Mayor Parks:
Last June the East St. Louis City Council voted in favor of an ordinance that limited the operating hours of nightclubs that had long been hubs of criminal activity, murder and violence. While crime remains a serious challenge, this ordinance was a much-needed step that has helped reduce crime and make East St. Louis a safer place in the year since it took effect.
Progress has been made in recent months in rebuilding public safety institutions in East St. Louis and surrounding communities, but there is a long way to go. That’s why it is shocking and disappointing that you are now proposing to abandon existing closing hours for nightclubs in the city. Allowing these nightclubs to stay open all night will increase the risk of violence and killings. The cost of this violent crime to East St. Louis’ families far exceeds any economic benefit that extended club hours might bring.
Further, we have long urged federal and state law enforcement agencies to step up to help combat violent crime in East St. Louis, and they have devoted significant resources to this effort. We do not want their contributions to be undermined by ill-conceived proposals to keep nightclubs open at all hours. These federal and state resources are stretched thin as it is. Your own police department’s resources are stretched thin.
We have spoken with many residents of East St. Louis who live in daily fear of violent crime, and we have committed that we will do all we can to help reduce this crime. It is because of that commitment that we express our strong opposition to your proposal to abandon reasonable nightclub closing hours. Real, sustainable economic development will come to East St. Louis only once public safety comes to East St. Louis. We urge you to withdraw this proposal, and should you press forward with it, we urge the City Council to vote it down.