As activists and community members rally against the release of Jason Van Dyke, Illinois’ two U.S. senators are pressing the Justice Department on a federal civil rights investigation into the former Chicago Police officer.
In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking for an update on the status of the probe, Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth write that the facts of the case are “shocking and upsetting.” Since sending the letter earlier this week, Duckworth says they have yet to receive a response.
“Chicagoans deserve answers, and I think the DOJ needs to examine and pursue well-founded civil rights violations that may have happened. But the problem is, we don’t know what all the facts are because the DOJ has not shared that information with us,” Duckworth told WTTW News.
Farther from home, diplomatic efforts are underway to defuse a potential invasion of Ukraine, with Russia reportedly amassing 100,000 troops at Ukraine’s border.
“I think there is a chance to prevent a war, and that’s why negotiations are ongoing, but it is really important to make it clear to Vladimir Putin that there will be consequences should he decide to invade Ukraine. He could invade in many different ways – he could try to seize just Kyiv, the capital, he could try to do a wholesale invasion – whatever it is, none of it is acceptable,” Duckworth said.
The Biden administration has its plate full when it comes to domestic politics as well, with efforts underway to vet a replacement for outgoing Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Duckworth expressed excitement for the reported list of nominees under consideration, and said she put in a good word with Vice President Kamala Harris for Chicago’s own Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, a judge serving on the 7th Circuit appeals court. With little room for error in a 50-50 Senate, Duckworth said a nominee who has already been through a confirmation process makes a smooth process more likely.
“Justice Akiwumi is one of those justices who has been confirmed by this very Senate, and there are multiple names among the front-runners who’ve been confirmed with Republican votes, by Republican senators who are still in the Senate,” Duckworth said.