Trump blasts Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel for record-setting 762 homicides and 4,331 shooting victims in 2016
January 2, 2017
Donald Trump used his Twitter bully pulpit on Monday to blast
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for allowing his city's murder and firearms shooting
rates to spiral out of control.
'Chicago murder rate is record setting – 4,331 shooting victims with 762 murders in 2016,' Trump tweeted.
'If Mayor can't do it he must ask for Federal help!'
2016 was one of the most violent years in Chicago history with
the most homicides in two decades – more than New York and Los Angeles
The nation's third largest city also saw 1,100 more shooting incidents last year than it did in 2015, according to data released Sunday by the Chicago Police Department.
Emanuel, a former Barack Obama White House chief of staff, visited with Trump at his Trump Tower office on December 7.
The pair reportedly talked about the mayor's concern that Trump would deport
'dreamers,' children brought to the U.S. illegally who have commit no crimes
during their years-long unauthorized stays.
Chicago's statistics underline a story of bloodshed that has put the city at the center of a national dialogue about gun violence.
The numbers are staggering, even for those who followed the steady news accounts of weekends ending with dozens of shootings and monthly death tolls that hadn't been seen in years.
The increase in homicides compared to 2015, when 485 were reported, is the largest spike in 60 years.
Police and city officials have lamented the flood of illegal guns into the city, and the crime statistics appeared to support their claims: Police recovered 8,300 illegal guns in 2016, a 20 per cent increase from the previous year.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said during a news conference Sunday
that Chicago is among many U.S. cities that have seek a spike in violence, including
in attacks on police. He said anger at police, including in the wake of video
released that showed a white Chicago officer shooting a black teenager 16 times,
has left criminals 'emboldened' to violent crimes.
He also said it's becoming clearer to criminals that they have little to fear from the criminal justice system.
'In Chicago, we just don't have a deterrent to pick up a gun,' he said. 'Any
time a guy stealing a loaf of bread spends more time pre-trial in jail than
a gun offender, something is wrong.'
ohnson, who has for months complained about Illinois' lax gun laws, said he
thinks more and more gang members are arming themselves because the price for
being caught is small compared to other large cities.
He said gang members he has spoken to consider the court system 'a joke'.
The bulk of the deaths and shooting incidents, which jumped from 2,426 in 2015 to 3,550 last year, occurred in only five of the city's 22 police districts on the city's South and West sides, all poor and predominantly black areas where gangs are most active.
Police said the shootings in those areas generally wasn't random, with more than 80 percent of the victims having previously been identified by police as more susceptible because of their gang ties or past arrests.
The city has scrambled to address the violence. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced last year that 1,000 officers would be added to the police department.
At the same time, police officials have been trying to figure out why homicides and shootings - which began climbing the year before - suddenly surged.
On Sunday, Johnson said he hoped several initiatives - including more street cameras in some of the city's most dangerous neighborhoods, and the expansion of gunshot-detection systems - would lead to more arrests and drive down the violent crime rate.
Johnson has said several factors have contributed to the increased violence.
He noted 2016 was the first full year since the city was forced in November
2015 to release video of the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald, the black
17-year-old boy who was shot 16 times by a white police officer.
The video cost former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy his job, sparked major protests around the city, and led to federal and state investigations of the police department.
It also left Johnson with the task of trying to restore public trust in what appeared to be a weakened police force, a perception that was only buttressed by a dramatic drop in the number of arrests in 2016.
The police department has cited several factors for the declining numbers, including a concerted effort not to make minor drug arrests and focus on gun violence.
Johnson pointed to gun arrests and gun seizures as evidence that his officers are aggressively fighting crime.
But critics said they have no doubt that officers have become far more reluctant to do their jobs since the McDonald video was released and the officer who killed the teen was charged with murder.
'It's almost like a pull back so they (gangs) can kill each other sort of thing,' said the Rev. Marshall Hatch, a prominent minister in one of Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods on the West Side.
Johnson acknowledged in a recent interview with that officers have become more cautious - in part out of fear of becoming the next 'viral video'.
He also said a state law that took effect last January requiring officers to fill out lengthy contact cards when they stop someone has resulted in fewer stops, because the cards require more paperwork for officers and the cards are 'scrutinized' by federal judges.
He said those concerns are not lost on criminals.
'Criminals watch TV, pay attention to the media,' he said. 'They see an opportunity to commit nefarious activity.
Reverend Jesse Jackson led hundreds of people on Saturday as they marched in downtown Chicago to commemorate homicide victims in the city this past year.
Greg Zanis, of Aurora, Illinois, built two-foot long crosses for each victim, and demonstrators walked down Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago silently carrying each one.
The Chicago Tribune had tallied up 775 victims in 2016.
Zanis has honored homicide victims in Chicago for several years, and even drove down to Orlando after the nightclub shooting left 49 dead in June.
The crosses were lined outside Restoration Church, organized by month, before they were carried in the march on Saturday.
August was the deadliest month with 96 homicide reports, according to figures reported by the Chicago Tribune.
Some victims in the past year were just infants, while others were in their 80s.
On Saturday, hundreds convened downtown, with Reverend Jesse Jackson shouldering
a cross on the front lines as one woman announced the long list of names through
Rev. Michael Pfleger who marched alongside Jackson, says he hopes the visuals of the protest along Chicago's premiere retail street will inspire people to take action to prevent further violence in 2017.
'It will remind us first of all, these are not just numbers or statistics, these are human beings,' he said.
The crosses will then be placed in a vacant lot on the city's South Side.
Chicago has become notorious for its gun violence and the city's police department has reported a shooting every day from February 2015 to December 29, 2016.