President Donald Trump pulled no punches Friday, demanding immediate action from Illinois Democratic leadership following weeks of violence on the streets of Chicago.
Counting himself “horrified” in an open letter to Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the president highlighted from a recent Sun-Times article just a few of the myriad tragedies which befell Chicago on May 31 — the Windy City’s bloodiest day in roughly 60 years.
“I write to you today to call your attention to and urge action on the devastating violence in Chicago,” Trump wrote. “While I have been heartened to see crime reductions nationally in the last few years, I have been horrified by the continued violence in this great American city.”
“Violence and death, which are disproportionately harming young African Americans, are tragic and unacceptable, particularly on such a shocking scale,” the president wrote.
“More Americans have been killed in Chicago than in combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq combined since September 11, 2001, a deadly trend that has continued under your tenure.”
According to the Sun-Times, the last weekend in May saw 25 people killed and more than 85 wounded in gun-related incidents across the Chicago metropolitan area — more than were hospitalized statewide with COVID-19 in the same 48-hour span.
Among the dead were a young father of three, two adolescent students and a three-year-old toddler.
Though largely unrelated, the shootings also coincided with protests, looting and rioting brought on by the widely publicized death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police Department custody just one week prior. Those demonstrations had left Chicago police spread thin.
Following two years of decreasing homicide totals, the events were deemed by some city leaders to be anomalous.
However, with no end in sight to roughly three weeks of at-times violent nationwide unrest, the city seems poised to close out 2020 with a double-digit increase in homicides over the previous year, according to The Chicago Tribune.
As of yet, no major criminal justice policy solutions have been forwarded by Democratic state leadership to slow the bleeding in America’s third-largest city.
Pritzker has not personally responded to calls for cooperation with Trump administration in handling Chicago’s recent crime wave, however, the governor’s press secretary Jordan Abudayyeh did attack the president for using the violence as a “press stunt” in an email statement to The Western Journal.
“President Trump is a failure who has once again resorted to a press stunt in an attempt to distract from his long list of failures, especially his response to the deadly coronavirus and nationwide calls for racial justice,” Abudayyeh wrote. “The people of this state and this nation have unfortunately come to expect his unhinged attempts to politicize tragedy with his predictable and worn-out strategy to distract, distract, distract.”
Lightfoot, for her part, was also unreserved in lashing out at the Trump on Twitter, suggesting the letter was an opportunist attempt to score political points with the president’s law-and-order base.
“I don’t need leadership lessons from Donald Trump,” Lightfoot wrote. “As our police officers, street outreach workers and residents continue to work tirelessly to keep our communities safe, he’s using the victims of gun violence in our city to score cheap political points, spew racist rhetoric, and ignore the impact of COVID across this country.”
“It is despicable, disgusting and all too typical. Same old tired playbook. How about some leadership not steeped in the divide and conquer tactics?” the mayor added.
“I stand with @GovPritzker in providing for the safety and well-being of our residents.”
A longtime critic of Chicago’s crime prevention and fiscal policy, Trump throughout his letter said both were to blame for the uptick in violence, lambasting local leaders for their inability to stem the tide despite bloated budgets.
According to the president, cabinet-level figures in the Trump administration stood ready to meet with state and local leaders to seek bipartisan criminal justice and policing reform for a safer Chicago.
His letter did not express confidence, however, that Illinois Democrats would meet the administration halfway, alleging ulterior “political interests” were likely at play across the aisle.
“Unlike previous Administrations of both parties, I am willing to tackle unsolved challenges,” Trump wrote. “If you are willing to put partisanship aside, we can revitalize distressed neighborhoods in Chicago, together. But to succeed, you must establish law and order.”
“Unfortunately, you continue to put your own political interests ahead of the lives, safety, and fortunes of your own citizens. The people of Chicago deserve better,” he added.
The Western Journal reached out to Lightfoot for further comment but did not immediately receive a response.