EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (KMOX) – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin made a stop in East St. Louis Wednesday to renew his call for stricter curfews for bars and liquor stores in an effort to cut down on the violent crime that has long plagued his hometown.
“We’re talking about the clubs. I think all of us understand what’s going on here,” Durbin said. “As long as these clubs are open all night it’s an invitation for more crime, for more murders, and the kind of people who come to this community who should not be part of it.”
He met with ministers and other concerned residents at Mt. Paran Missionary Baptist Church.
Noticeably absent from the gathering — East St. Louis mayor Alvin Parks.
“This was a meeting of people who were interested in sending a message to Mayor Parks,” Sen. Durbin said when asked about Parks’ absence. “I’ve sent that message to him privately, I’ve sent it to him publicly, and I would just remind him of what I try to remember every day…I am a public servant, he is a public servant and he serves the people of East St. Louis.”
Durbin memorably called out the mayor in public from the podium during a news conference he held in late February on the issue of curbing violence in East St. Louis.
At that event, Parks was in the crowd but was not invited to speak from the podium.
Durbin called on the mayor to enforce curfews at nightclubs and liquor stores, places that he sees as a breeding ground for violent crime.
Steve Wigginton, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, pointed out that even if the city does adopt and strictly enforce earlier curfew times, officials hoping to curb violence in East St. Louis still have a monumental task ahead of them.
“Statistically, according to the FBI, this is the most dangerous community in the United States,” Wigginton said. “In fact second place isn’t even close.”
Wigginton explained that the homicide rate in East St. Louis last year was 109 per 100,000 residents, compared to the national average of 5 per 100,000.
“There is a greater than fifty percent chance that you can get away with murder in East St. Louis,” he concluded.