Chicago Sun-Times - - CITYBEAT - BY ANDY GRIMM Staff Re­porter Email: agrimm@sun­ Twit­ter: @agrimm34

Cleve­land- area pas­tor Dar­rell Scott abruptly can­celed a planned meet­ing Tues­day with “street lead­ers” ea­ger to bring an end to vi­o­lence in Chicago with the help of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Scott’s Na­tional Di­ver­sity Coali­tion for Trump on Mon­day af­ter­noon is­sued a press re­lease an­nounc­ing a “gang sum­mit” to be held roughly 24 hours later at the O’Hare Mar­riott, ap­par­ently de­liv­er­ing on a state­ment Scott made last month about a pro­posed meet­ing with “top gang thugs in Chicago” to bro­ker peace in the city.

A few hours later, dur­ing a phone in­ter­view with the Chicago Sun- Times, Scott said the event was no “gang sum­mit” and would be a small af­fair, with “15 to 20 guys” and de­vel­op­ers will­ing to of­fer jobs. Around 10 p. m., an­other state­ment from the Coali­tion an­nounced the event was be­ing resched­uled.

Scott made head­lines in Fe­bru­ary when he emerged from a Black His­tory Month meet­ing with the pres­i­dent and an­nounced “top gang thugs in Chicago” had told him they were ea­ger to work with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to “bring down the body count” in the city in ex­change for fed­eral aid.

Scott had walked back his re­marks after learn­ing that the “top gang thug” he had talked with was a com­mu­nity ac­tivist who de­nies in­volve­ment in gangs. On Mon­day, Scott sounded chas­tened by the skep­ti­cism from Chicago ac­tivists who have worked with youths and gang mem­bers for years.

“We’re just call­ing it a sit­down,” Scott said in a phone in­ter­view Mon­day. “They’re not in gangs ... they’re street lead­ers, com­mu­nity ac­tivists.”

“I’m not try­ing to be the hero of Chicago,” Scott said. “I’m not try­ing to step on any­body’s toes in Chicago. ... Some­body called me for help. If some­body called me from Juneau or Fair­banks, Alaska, I would have re­sponded the same way.”

Scott said he had been con­tacted by Tor­rence Cooks, who told Scott he works with youths on the South Side, not long after Trump was elected. Scott has been one of Trump’s most vo­cal African- Amer­i­can sup­port­ers, was a speaker at the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion and hosted a press con­fer­ence at his sub­ur­ban Cleve­land mega- church for Trump dur­ing the cam­paign.

Scott said Mon­day that Cooks had con­tacted “15, 20 guys” with knowl­edge of what’s hap­pen­ing in Chicago’s streets, and “any­one else who wants to come. It’s at [ Cooks’] in­vi­ta­tion.”

Scott said he in­vited sev­eral de­vel­op­ers who have jobs to of­fer and said a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Repub­li­can Gov. Bruce Rauner’s of­fice also would at­tend. Rauner’s of­fice did not re­spond to ques­tions about the meet­ing.

Scott said he had not dis­cussed his trip to Chicago with the White House and would wait to see how the gath­er­ing goes be­fore de­cid­ing whether to ap­proach Trump about fed­eral aid for the city.

Dar­rell Scott

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