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House Republicans host forum on Chicago crime; Democrats blast event as political stunt

House Republicans hold forum on violent crime in Chicago
House Republicans hold forum on violent crime in Chicago 02:25

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A group of House Republicans was meeting in Chicago on Tuesday to talk about violent crime, but some critics have called it a political stunt as Congress faces a Saturday deadline to avoid a federal government shutdown.

The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police was hosting the forum at its West Loop headquarters. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has said committee members will hear from victims of violent crime.

"Today's forum is about our commitment to justice and keeping our communities safe. In recent years, we've all seen how the radical left has sought to undermine public safety in the name of criminal justice reform. The left has implemented pro-criminal policies that have allowed dangerous criminals to remain on the street. The left has attacked law enforcement and sought to defund the police. And then when crime goes up, they act shocked, and when cities become less safe, they act surprised," Jordan said.

The event is not an official Judiciary Committee hearing.

Among the witnesses asked to speak at the forum were political analyst Gianno Caldwell whose brother was killed in the summer of 2022; retired Chicago police detective John Garrido, who ran for Cook County Board president as a Republican in 2010; and retired Chicago police officer Carlos Yanez Jr., who was seriously wounded in the same shooting that killed his partner, Ella French, in 2021.

"I truly wish that it was not my place to be before you today, but I believe I have no choice. No choice, because of the countless people in my hometown – including my own family – who are innocent victims of murder and violent crime," Caldwell said.

An announcement about the hearing said it would focus on how Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx's "pro-crime and anti-victim policies are leading to an increase in violent crime and a dangerous community for Chicago residents."

"For 11 years – 11 years – Chicago has led the country in homicides, and it has only gotten worse under State's Attorney Kim Foxx," Jordan said.

However, murders in Chicago declined the first three years Foxx was in office, before spiking in 2020 and 2021, when the pandemic led to a rise in violent crime nationwide. Then, murders went back down in 2022, and so far this year, murders are again trending downward compared to last year. 

Foxx's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but some top Democrats have blasted Jordan for holding a forum on crime in Chicago, rather than focusing on avoiding a potential government shutdown, as House Republicans have been unable to agree among themselves on how to fund the federal government ahead of Saturday's deadline.

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago), whose district includes Chicago FOP headquarters, said crime and gun violence is an issue in Chicago, but questioned the timing of the forum.

"This is very interesting when all of us should be in Washington trying to make sure that the government does not shut down, because we have not reached an agreement on a budget or at least a continuing resolution," Davis said.

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