The 76-year-old senator’s ordeal last weekend prompted David Axelrod, a former top adviser to former President Barack Obama, to call on Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a fellow Democrat, to declare a “public safety emergency” in America’s third-largest city.
“Last Saturday night,” Durbin told reporters, “my wife and I went out to eat, downtown Chicago, with another couple – several couples – and we were driving home on Lake Shore Drive about 10 o’clock on Saturday night.
Suddenly, “I heard a popping sound,” Durbin recalled, according to Chicago’s WBBM-TV. “I didn’t know what it was. The driver of the car said, ‘Those are gunshots.’ It turned out to be the car next to us.
“The driver [of the other car] was leaning out the window and shooting into the air,” the senator continued. “He could have just as easily been shooting the gun at us.
“He could have just as easily been shooting the gun at us.”
— U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., speaks on Capitol Hill, Oct. 15, 2020. (Associated Press)
“Sadly,” he added, “that’s what happens way too often.”
Durbin and his wife were unharmed. But the senator’s experience came a little more than two months after a former Democratic colleague – former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California – was attacked and robbed of her cellphone in Oakland, California.
In that incident, 80-year-old Boxer was shoved in the back as the assailant grabbed her phone and then jumped into a waiting car, a social media post from her office said at the time.
Reacting to Durbin’s story, former Obama adviser David Axelrod said Chicago Mayor Lightfoot should consider doing “what mayors don’t like to do,” according to FOX 32 of Chicago.
David Axelrod (Getty Images)
Axelrod said Lightfoot needed to admit that Chicago’s gun violence problem is “more than we can handle here at city government,” and suggested that voters could blame the mayor if shootings aren’t effectively addressed before she seeks reelection in 2023.
He advised Lightfoot to form partnerships with local businesses, hire more detectives and encourage more members of the public to come forward as witnesses to help reduce crime, FOX 32 reported.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks in Chicago, July 23, 2020. (Reuters)
“We need not just one idea, we need to do it all simultaneously,” Axelrod said.
Chicago saw killings rise by 56% in 2020 and is seeing higher numbers this year, according to FBI figures, Axelrod told FOX 32.
In late September, Lightfoot unveiled a $16 billion city budget plan that calls for boosting police spending to $1.9 billion, up from $1.7 billion this year, the Chicago Tribune reported.