Following the fatal shooting of his 14-year-old grandson, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis said he hopes to work with President-elect Donald Trump to address Chicago’s violence.
In an exclusive interview with Ward Room on Monday, Davis said he was encouraged to hear Trump cite Chicago as an “example of need” throughout the campaign. He also lauded former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s response to his grandson's killing. Gingrich, one of Trump’s top advisors, pushed for a “federal strategy to save lives” in Chicago on Twitter Saturday.
“For me, those are heartwarming comments,” Davis said, while acknowledging that other cities like Milwaukee are also in need of additional resources to fight crime. “Especially given the fact that both of them seem to recognize that Chicago does have some special needs and that communities throughout America, such as the inner-city areas that we’re talking about, have special needs. And I hope that means that there will be some special focus put on those areas and the needs that they have.”
Davis also expressed concerns about some of Trump’s proposals, particularly the president-elect’s push to implement controversial police tactics to restore a sense of “law and order.”
In the lead-up to the election, Trump repeatedly bemoaned Chicago’s growing violence and championed the use of "stop-and-frisk" in the city, backing off his original plan to implement the method nationwide. “Stop-and-frisk,” which was ruled unconstitutional in New York in 2013, allows police officers to detain and search individuals for weapons or contraband without a warrant.
“I have a great deal of concern because laws and techniques and practices, such as 'stop-and-frisk,' have stripped away the rights of law-abiding decent, hardworking, god-fearing citizens in so many instances until it’s just not funny,” Davis said. “You can’t discriminate. You can’t just determine who people are if they are driving down the street, or down the highway or down the road.”
Davis warned against the use of such practices, explaining that he has been the victim of undue police attention throughout his life.
“I must confess that during my lifetime, I have been stopped any number of times unnecessarily and I’ve never been anything except a hardworking individual who believes in upholding law and order and believes in protecting the rights of each and every person in the environment,” Davis said. “And so I do have some fear that people with those kinds of thoughts, “stop-and-frisk,” are talking about the creation of an environment that I don’t want to see happen.”
In a Sunday interview with Politico, Davis urged “every unit of government” to issue a "state of emergency" for Chicago communities affected by pervasive violence. Davis explained that he wasn't calling for an official paramilitary state, but rather a formal declaration that allows resources to be sent to problem areas in an expedited manner.
“When I say 'state of emergency,' I mean that resources need to be found quickly,” Davis said. “You know, we come up with budgets and we do planning and you might make a budget this month, but the impact of that budget may not occur for another five months or another six months or it might be a certain period of time before the result of whatever has been decided ever reach the places where it’s designed to go.”
The congressman, who also stressed the importance of community organizations and jobs programs, claimed that all units of government should “figure out and participate in some way that helps to bring some relief to challenged communities.”
"What I’m suggesting is, that if determinations are made and some addressment of issues and problems and needs takes place right now, next week, next month, that you’re not restricted and constricted to waiting for another six months before some activity emerges, before a program is decided, before some resource will reach certain areas,” Davis said. "That it can happen more quickly."
"And that becomes emergency to me,” he added.