Trump calls lefty Chicago ‘worse than Afghanista­n,’ says — again — ‘we’re not go­ing to let it go on’

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - LYNN SWEET D.C. DECODER lsweet@sun­times.com | @lynnsweet

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump con­tin­ued his re­lent­less at­tacks on Chicago on Mon­day, say­ing from the White House, “Can you imag­ine if the coun­try was run like Chicago and like New York and like some of these other Demo­crat su­per-rad­i­cal left cities are run?

“You wouldn’t have a coun­try for very long,” he said, a wild over­state­ment.

Trump’s fo­cus on crime in Chicago goes back to his 2016 cam­paign. His ref­er­ences to Chicago are fre­quent and come as Chicago sadly con­tin­ues to strug­gle with shoot­ings. Dur­ing this past week­end, at least 64 peo­ple were shot and 13 died, vic­tims of gun vi­o­lence. On the pre­vi­ous July 4 week­end, 79 peo­ple were shot and 15 died.

The Trump White House is keep­ing tabs on these num­bers.

Trump com­min­gled his griev­ances against the Democrats who gov­ern Illi­nois and New York at a round­table to high­light pos­i­tive, even heroic, en­coun­ters sev­eral grate­ful peo­ple have had with their lo­cal law en­force­ment per­son­nel.

They were in the East Room, seated around a sign on a video that read, “Red, white, and the blue.”

“In re­cent weeks, our coun­try’s po­lice of­fi­cers have been re­ally under siege,” Trump said, adding that “rad­i­cal politi­cians want to de­fund and abol­ish the po­lice from our na­tion.”

No one has sug­gested abol­ish­ing po­lice.

Under the “de­fund po­lice” um­brella, there are dis­cus­sions of whether po­lice should be in schools and whether some tax­payer po­lice dol­lars should be re­de­ployed to fight crime in other ways.

Trump did not bring up the rea­sons the na­tional “de­fund” move­ment ex­ists and is gain­ing trac­tion.

The cru­cial omis­sion ap­pears cal­cu­lated be­cause it ex­plains the cross­roads the na­tion is at when it comes to polic­ing.

The knee-on-the-neck killing of Ge­orge Floyd, an African Amer­i­can, at the hands of a white Min­neapo­lis po­lice of­fi­cer started a con­ver­sa­tion across the coun­try about po­lice bru­tal­ity.

Rather than bridge di­vides be­tween po­lice and the ci­ti­zens they are sworn to pro­tect, Trump’s words and tweets serve to deepen them.

Trump also showed Mon­day that psy­cho­log­i­cal oper­a­tions aimed to get to him can work. In crit­i­ciz­ing New York for the spike in shoot­ings in the city, Trump re­ferred to the “Black Lives Mat­ter” let­ters painted in front of Trump Tower on Fifth Av­enue last week.

“Yet they spend all their time — they want to do Black Lives Mat­ter signs out­side of Trump Tower,’’ he said. ‘‘They ought to spend their time do­ing some­thing else.”

Turn­ing to Chicago, Trump noted the shoot­ings and deaths and said: “That’s worse than Afghanista­n. I hate to say it: That’s worse than any war zone that we’re in, by a lot. It makes them look like tame places by com­par­i­son. So we’re not go­ing to let it go on.”

That echoed what he said last Thurs­day, when he sug­gested he may side­step Mayor Lori Light­foot and Gov. J.B. Pritzker, telling Fox News host Sean Han­nity vaguely, “We’re go­ing to have to do some­thing” about crime in Chicago.

Ear­lier on Thurs­day, White House press sec­re­tary Kayleigh McE­nany wrapped up her brief­ing with a “plea for peace in our streets.” She showed the pic­tures of youths — most from Chicago — who were the most re­cent vic­tims of gun vi­o­lence.

Last June 26, Trump sent Light­foot and Pritzker a let­ter, of­fer­ing meet­ings with ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials to dis­cuss crime so­lu­tions. The let­ter was so full of in­sults that Light­foot and Pritzker shrugged it off as a press stunt.

On Mon­day, Trump said: “They don’t call. We’ve asked Chicago, ‘Would you like us to go in and help?’ And they don’t want to say any­thing.”

Trump ac­cused “far-left may­ors” of “es­ca­lat­ing the anti-cop cru­sade, and vi­o­lent crime is spi­ral­ing in their cities. It’s all far-left cities where they have no un­der­stand­ing of what has to be done. They don’t have a clue.”

Ac­tu­ally, Light­foot and Pritzker do have quite a clue when it comes to curb­ing gun vi­o­lence. There is an ur­gent need for na­tion­wide gun leg­is­la­tion so guns can’t find their way from In­di­ana to the city. Trump mocks Chicago’s in­ef­fec­tive gun ban; no one will ar­gue with him.

Light­foot, through a spokesman, said while Trump “con­tin­ues to get his facts wrong and use vic­tims of gun vi­o­lence to score cheap po­lit­i­cal points, Chicago’s po­lice of­fi­cers, faith lead­ers, com­mu­ni­ty­based or­ga­ni­za­tions and res­i­dents are busy work­ing on-the-ground at this very mo­ment to pro­tect their neigh­bor­hoods from this epi­demic. That’s who we are as a city and as a coun­try, not the hate­ful and racist rhetoric that this pres­i­dent spouts ev­ery day.”

If Trump wants to be help­ful, he could take a clue from Light­foot and Pritzker and, for heaven’s sake, won­der: “Where do these guns come from? How did shoot­ers ob­tain these weapons? How can we get it to stop?”

DREW AN­GERER/GETTY IM­AGES

Jake­bia An­drews and her son, David North­cutt, who was saved by po­lice dur­ing an at­tempted kid­nap­ping in Palm Beach County, Florida; Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence; and Pres­i­dent Trump attend an event Mon­day about ci­ti­zens pos­i­tively af­fected by law en­force­ment in the White House.

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