President Donald Trump sent a letter to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday calling on them to "urge action on the devastating violence in Chicago."
The president said while he has been heartened to see crime reductions nationally the last few years, he has been "horrified by the continued violence in this great American city."
The letter goes into detail on the city's violence numbers from the last weekend in May, when more than 80 people were shot and nearly two dozen killed. Last weekend, the numbers climbed even higher, with 104 people shot and 14 killed, including a 3-year-old boy and multiple teens.
"Your lack of leadership on this important issue continues to fail the people you have sworn to protect," the letter reads. "I am concerned it is another example of your lack of commitment to the vulnerable citizens who are victims of this violence and a lack of respect for the men and women in law enforcement."
Lightfoot tweeted back at the president saying "I don’t need leadership lessons from Donald Trump."
"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," she wrote.
Lightfoot has repeatedly cited the pandemic among the reasons for a rise in violence.
After the city saw one of its deadliest Memorial Day weekends in years, Lightfoot pointed to a lack of federal resources, jail admittance and court hearings during the coronavirus pandemic for making community policing the most difficult she's seen in more than 20 years.
"The reality is there is no circumstance like the one that we are facing," she said at the time.
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown has repeated the need to keep violent offenders in jail and revamp the home monitoring system, explaining it's simply not working.
Pritzker has not yet publicly responded to the letter.
Trump accused both Lightfoot and Pritzker of putting politics before lives,
"Unfortunately, you continue to put your own political interests ahead of the lives, safety, and fortunes of your own citizens," the letter reads. "The people of Chicago deserve better."
It's not the first time the president has publicly decried Chicago's violence.
In a speech on police reform earlier this month, Trump pointed to the Chicago Police Department's murder clearance rate.
"47% of all murders in Chicago and 68% of all murders in Baltimore went without arrests last year. Americans want law and order. They demand law and order," Trump stated.
The Chicago Police Department confirmed in a statement Tuesday that its murder clearance rate for 2019 stood at 53%.
Data released by Chicago police at the end of 2019 showed 419 people were killed over the course of the year, a 13% reduction from the 567 who were murdered the year prior. That marked the third consecutive year the city saw a drop in homicides and violent crime, according to police.
Trump has a long history of disparaging Chicago and its violence, most recently doing so in a speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference held in Chicago last October.
In that speech, Trump repeated a story he's often told about a conversation he claimed to have had with an unnamed police officer in Chicago who said he could "fix this killing problem" in one day - a story CPD has refuted multiple times since he first told it as a candidate in 2016.
The full letter from the White House is listed below:
Dear Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot:
I write to you today to call your attention to and urge action on the devastating violence in Chicago. While I have been heartened to see crime reductions nationally the last few years, I have been horrified by the continued violence in this great American city.
I recently read an article from the Chicago Sun-Times on June 8, 2020, “18 murders in 24 hours: Inside the most violent day in 60 years in Chicago,” which discussed the severe crime and lack of law and order in our Nation’s third largest city. The article details how “85 people were shot and 24 killed the previous weekend, the most in modern history in Chicago.” Your lack of leadership on this important issue continues to fail the people you have sworn to protect. I am concerned it is another example of your lack of commitment to the vulnerable citizens who are victims of this violence and a lack of respect for the men and women in law enforcement. The article recounts the following horrors:
A hardworking father killed.
A West Side high school student murdered.
A college freshman who hoped to become a correctional officer, gunned down.
18 people killed Sunday, May 31, the single most violent day in Chicago in six decades.
The weekend of May 29, 25 people were killed and another 85 wounded by gunfire.
The most violent weekend in Chicago’s modern history, stretching police resources that were already thin because of protests and looting.
Violence and death, which are disproportionately harming young African Americans, are tragic and unacceptable, particularly on such a shocking scale. According to the Chicago Sun Times, “shootings across the City increased by 71 percent last month,” and just this past weekend 102 people were shot in the city’s most violent weekend of the year. A 3-year old toddler was killed. 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.
The American people (hardworking taxpayers) send you millions of dollars in Federal funding each year to support public safety in Chicago. In 2018 and 2019, the City of Chicago benefited from $136 million in funding from the Urban Area Security Initiative Grant Program, and another $68 million was recently announced for Chicago from this important program. The Department of Justice awarded and is in the process of awarding nearly $20 million to support law enforcement and law-enforcement related entities in the City of Chicago and Cook County across 2019 and 2020, including resources for combating opioid abuse and recidivism reduction. The Department of Labor has also awarded funding to programs targeting prisoner re-entry and recidivism reduction in the Chicago area. My Administration allocated $898.6 million to the City of Chicago and Cook County from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which helps support your first responders on the front lines. In the absence of any modicum of leadership, however, these substantial sums of taxpayer money are not being turned into results, and the safety of your most vulnerable communities continues to deteriorate. These funds are in addition to those collected through your combined insatiable appetite to tax the people of Illinois and Chicago.
I will continue to lead the way to support historically disadvantaged communities and would welcome your help in these endeavors. In December 2018, I signed into law the First Step Act, marking the first major reforms to our criminal justice system in over a decade. This brings historic reforms to make our justice system fairer and to help inmates successfully transition back into society by providing prisoners with a second chance through rehabilitative programs and fair sentencing. Additionally, when I signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, we created Opportunity Zones. Nationwide, nearly 9,000 communities have designated Opportunity Zones, including over 130 in Chicago, which are incentivizing investments in areas that have been forgotten for far too long. My Administration has also provided robust, unprecedented support to Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Recently, on June 16, I signed an Executive Order advancing important reforms to elevate a noble profession and strengthen the essential bond of trust between police officers and the communities in which they serve. My Administration continues to work closely with Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina and others across the political spectrum to advance further policy improvements and meaningful reforms.
Unlike previous Administrations of both parties, I am willing to tackle unsolved challenges. 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. The combination of crime, high State and local taxes, and onerous State and local government regulations have caused thousands of Illinoisans to flee to other States. Between 2010 and 2019, Illinois lost more of its population than any other state in the Nation. If you are interested, I am willing to ask members of my Cabinet to meet with you and help devise a plan to make Chicago safe, since a successful formula has escaped both you and your predecessors. My Administration would also welcome the opportunity to engage with you and your colleagues as you develop bipartisan policy recommendations to improve policing and make our great cities safer for all.
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.
Donald J. Trump