Durbin: Mayor's Decision to Enforce 1 A.M. Cutoff for Liquor Sales is Step In Right Direction, but More Still Needs to be Done
Federal Law Enforcement Agencies ID Liquor Stores and Night Clubs as Centers of Violent Criminal Activity After Midnight
[EAST ST. LOUIS, IL] – The East St. Louis Mayor’s decision to enforce the 1 a.m. cutoff for liquor store sales is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to reduce the violence that is plaguing the area, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), an East St. Louis native, said today.
On Wednesday, Durbin talked to Mayor Alvin Parks by phone following a meeting with residents of the John DeShields Housing Development and the Working Against Violent Elements (WAVE) Task Force, a collaboration of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. During their conversation, Durbin urged Parks to take aggressive action to rein in the clubs and liquor stores in town, many of which are open well into the early morning hours. The FBI, ATF and Illinois State Police have all flagged for Durbin the disturbing number of violent criminal incidents, including homicides, which take place just outside of the night clubs and liquor stores in town.
“I want to commend Mayor Parks for taking swift action after our conversation earlier this week. He faces some enormous challenges as Mayor of East St. Louis. I assured him that I will continue to work with the federal law enforcement agencies to help him aggressively combat the violent crime in the area,” Durbin said.
“The residents I met with on Wednesday were particularly concerned about the liquor stores located right next door to the housing developments. Those stores have a notorious reputation as the most dangerous places in town. Enforcing the 1 a.m. cutoff for liquor sales is a start. An earlier close time would be even better,” Durbin said.
“I also heard from federal and state law enforcement who told me that the club scene in the East St. Louis area is better described as a crime scene. I urge the Mayor and other local leaders to take action to rein in these clubs, which are open all night and are the centers of violent, criminal activity according to state and federal law enforcement. The fact that they generate revenue for the city should not deter the Mayor from making the protection of innocent people a higher priority,” Durbin said.
“Residents of East St. Louis suffer from one of the highest violent crime and homicide rates in the country. The people living in and raising their families in this community deserve better,” Durbin said.
Although the population of East St. Louis has decreased in recent years, the violent crime and homicide rates in East St. Louis continue to rank among the nation’s highest. In 2010 alone, there were 31 homicides in East St. Louis and surrounding communities. In 2009, Illinois State Police statistics show that East St. Louis had a population of less than 29,000 but had 3,642 serious reported crimes including 1,348 aggravated assaults, 905 burglaries, 265 robberies and 43 sexual assaults, amounting to a crime rate of 12,658 crimes per 100,000 residents. By comparison, in 2009, Chicago had a crime rate of 5,426 crimes per 100,000 residents and the Illinois average was 3,299 crimes per 100,000 residents.
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