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Trump Threatens Federal Intervention over Violent Crime | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Chicago police. (AFP/Joshua Lott)

Washington- U.S. President Donald Trump threatened federal intervention in Chicago on Tuesday night if the city does not do more to address violent crime, resurfacing a criticism he made during the presidential campaign.

“If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!” he said on Twitter just before 9:30 p.m.

The tweet came after the evening broadcast on Fox News of “The O’Reilly Factor,” which featured a segment in which the host, Bill O’Reilly, explored whether and how the federal government could intervene in combating violent crime by having federal authorities prosecute some cases or calling in the National Guard.

Both the segment and Mr. Trump’s tweet appeared to draw from an article published on Monday in The Chicago Tribune that stated that there had been more shootings and homicides so far this year than by the same time last year. The Tribune reported that as of early Monday, “at least 228 people had been shot in Chicago so far this year, a 5.5 percent increase from the 216 shot in the same period time last year.” It also reported that there had been at least 42 homicides in the city, an increase of 23.5 percent from the 34 homicides during the same period in 2016.

Asked to respond to Mr. Trump’s tweet, a spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that the mayor had spoken, several times, on how the federal government could help address the city’s violence — and had done so earlier Tuesday evening on a local TV news program.

Eddie Johnson, Chicago’s police superintendent, issued a statement: “As the mayor said just a few hours ago, the Chicago Police Department is more than willing to work with the federal government to build on our partnerships with D.O.J., F.B.I., D.E.A. and A.T.F. and boost federal prosecution rates for gun crimes in Chicago.”

On Tuesday night, a Chicago police spokesman cited statistics that differed from those noted by Mr. Trump and The Tribune. So far in 2017, the spokesman said, 234 people have been shot, 38 of them fatally. That compares to 227 people shot during the same period in the start of 2016, 33 of whom died, he said. It was unclear why the number of homicides cited by Mr. Trump, The Tribune and Mr. O’Reilly — 42 — varied from that noted by the Chicago police.

The “O’Reilly Factor” segment featured a clip of Mr. Trump at the Republican National Convention last summer speaking of killings in Chicago and promising that “the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon — and I mean very soon — come to an end.”

In his inauguration speech last Friday, Mr. Trump said that “this American carnage stops right here, and stops right now.”

In a tweet this month, Mr. Trump cited Chicago’s high homicide rate before urging Mr. Emanuel to ask for federal assistance if he needs it.

Chicago has been pummeled by grim news. The city saw at least 762 homicides in 2016, the worst death toll in two decades and more bloodshed than the nation’s two larger cities, Los Angeles and New York, combined. And the uptick in violence comes even as Chicago has grappled with strained relations between its police force and its residents, particularly African-Americans. This month, the Department of Justice issued a stinging report that described failures throughout the Police Department, including rampant use of excessive force, especially against African-Americans and Latinos.

The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, the civil rights leader who has been outspoken about the need to stop the violence, seemed critical of Mr. Trump’s tweet and responded with his own: “We need a plan, not a threat. We need jobs, not jails.” He later added: “A good analysis precedes the prognosis.”

The New York Times