A group of local activists spoke out Thursday against the Ohio pastor who told President Donald Trump that he was preparing to sit down with Chicago gang leaders to discuss ways to “lower the body count.”
During a press conference Thursday, crisis counselors and activists were outraged that someone from outside the city would try to speak for Chicagoans.
“Why would a guy in Ohio be more credible than someone in Chicago,” activist Dawn Valenti said. “That’s total disrespect of the community.”
During a "listening session” with African-American leaders Wednesday at the White House, Dr. Darrell Scott, an Ohio pastor who campaigned for Trump, told the president that some of Chicago’s “top gang thugs” reached out to talk about “lowering the body count” in exchange for "social programs."
Trump called Scott’s proposal a “great idea," while continuing to threaten federal intervention in the city.
Longtime Chicago mentor Phillip Jackson, the founder of the Black Star Project, said he would welcome Trump’s help with fighting the city’s violence, but also pointed to other struggling American cities.
“We’re here to help President Trump get America under control,” Jackson said.
Activist Mark Carter told reporters Thursday that the city would accept federal resources, no matter who they come from.
“If we have an opportunity to bring a sitting president into Chicago, to make some change, bring some resources into Chicago, then we welcome those resources, whether they come from Republicans or Democrats,” Carter said.
After repeated threats from Trump, Mayor Rahm Emanuel explicitly urged the president Wednesday to send more federal law enforcement agents to the city.
“Send more FBI, DEA, ATF agents,” Emanuel told reporters. “We don’t have to talk about it anymore. Just send them.”
“When asked if Emanuel wanted the president to visit the city, he simply said, “No.”
“What I would really like is the federal resources,” the mayor said.
Chicago Police Department Supt. Eddie Johnson reacted to Pastor Scott’s comments Thursday as the next class of Chicago police officers prepared to graduate.
“Talking to gang members is not a new strategy,” Johnson said. “We talk to them everyday.”
Scott has since clarified his statement, claiming that he meant "former street guys that are now community activists," not "gang thugs."
"MY BAD," he tweeted. "No harm or disrespect intended! (I'm a former street guy too)."