CHICAGO (CBS) — A week after a shooting rampage in Arizona left six people dead and 13 wounded including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, two prominent Illinois politicians were making a public show of solidarity.
The violence in Arizona left many people wondering if their lawmakers would cut back or even cancel some of their public appearances.
But as CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, on Saturday, at least two Illinois lawmakers said they have no plans to limit their exposure to the public despite the violence in Tucson.
It was a show of unity at the podium Saturday at Malcolm X College and a show of security at the doors.
Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and Democratic Congressman Danny Davis shared the floor for a bipartisan town hall meeting.
Nearby, armed Chicago police officers kept an eye on the event alongside security guards hired by the college.
“While we did reach out to local law enforcement to make sure we protect public safety, we’re not curtailing our schedule,” Kirk said.
Schedules that are being set up in the wake of the shooting spree that wounded Giffords and killed six – including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl – at a similar event in Tucson.
“Everybody here has Arizona on their mind,” Kirk said. “We’re all praying for Gabrielle’s recovery as well as the others and you want to make sure that this tradition of the town hall meeting is preserved.”
Davis said you can only do that by not becoming a victim of your fears.
“Our responsibility is to interact with our constituents, to hear their concerns and, of course, you can’t do that by hibernating,” Davis said.
Voters that showed up Saturday also seemed determined not to let fear keep them away.
Jerry Sebesta of Oak Park said, “If you don’t attend something like this because of your concern, then you are a prisoner of your fear.”
Amanda Logan of Chicago said, “I come out here with an open heart and open mind and I try not to run from anything.”
Richard Boykin of Chicago said, “What we’re saying to the forces of evil is we will not be deterred. We will not be detracted.”
Davis and Kirk both said they’re determined to keep holding meetings with the public, despite risks that both men acknowledge aren’t going away.
“Of course we’re cautious, we are aware,” Davis said.
“The essence of our job is to talk to the people who we work for and we’re going to keep doing it,” Kirk said.
Kirk held three town hall meetings this week across the state. He said he does not think there needs to be a Secret Service-type agency for Congress.
Congressman Davis received a threatening email after the Arizona shootings. Capitol Hill police were investigating.