President Donald Trump called on Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to establish law and order amid crime and lawlessness in Chicago, the third largest city in the United States.
In a letter on Friday (pdf), Trump urged Pritzker and Lightfoot to take action on the violence taking place in Chicago. He accused the two of putting political interests ahead of the lives, safety, and fortunes of Chicago citizens, adding that “the people of Chicago deserve better.”
“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,” the president wrote.
Trump expressed concern over an article from Chicago Sun-Times on June 8 which reported 18 murders in 24 hours on May 31, which made it the most violent day in 60 years in the city. The article also noted that from late May 29 through early June 1, 85 people were shot and 25 were killed—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,” Trump wrote to Pritzker and Lightfoot, citing the article. “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.”
“More Americans have been killed in Chicago than in combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq combined since Sept. 11, 2001, a deadly trend that has continued under your tenure,” Trump later emphasized.
“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,” he also wrote. “Between 2010 and 2019, Illinois lost more of its population than any other state in the nation.”
Trump said that despite millions of dollars of federal funding that has been allotted each year to support public safety in Chicago, “these substantial sums of taxpayer money are not being turned into results, and the safety of [Chicago’s] most vulnerable communities continues to deteriorate.”
The president offered Pritzker and Lightfoot the option of meeting with members of his cabinet to help create “a plan to make Chicago safe.”
“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,” Trump wrote.
“If you are willing to put partisanship aside, we can revitalize distressed neighborhoods in Chicago, together,” he added. “But to succeed, you must establish law and order.”
The president said that his administration has already taken a number of steps to support disadvantaged communities, including signing the First Step Act into law in December 2018—a move that marked the first of major reforms to the U.S. 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,” Trump said of the move.
Trump also noted that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law in 2017 has created Opportunity Zones—where investors can qualify for special tax incentives when investing in certain economically distressed communities.
“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,” Trump said.
Trump pointed to an Executive Order he signed on June 16 to help strengthen trust between police officers and their communities. The order stipulates that certain federal grants will only be awarded to police agencies that reform their use-of-force rules and send data on officer use-of-force misconduct to a national database.
“My administration continues to work closely with Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and others across the political spectrum to advance further policy improvements and meaningful reforms,” he wrote.
Early Saturday morning, Lightfoot responded on Twitter, saying she didn’t “need leadership lessons from Donald Trump.”
Petr Svab contributed to this report.