CHICAGO (AP) — The war of words between Chicago’s mayor and President Donald Trump escalated Monday after a weekend where dozens of people were injured by gunfire and 12 were killed, with the mayor rejecting any suggestion that federal troops should be dispatched as they were in Portland, Oregon, and Trump all but promising to send them.
“I have great concerns about that in particular, given the track record in the city of Portland,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, even as Trump was telling reporters that federal officers could help bring order to Chicago.
“I have talked to the mayor of Portland (and) we don’t need federal agents without any insignia taking people off the street and holding them, I think, unlawfully,” Lightfoot added.
The Trump administration sent federal officers in Portland after weeks of protests there over police brutality and racial injustice that followed the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Oregon’s governor and Portland’s mayor have expressed anger with the presence of the federal agents, saying that the city’s protests had started to ease just as the federal agents started taking action.
However, Trump, framing such protests in the nation’s large cities as a failure by “liberal Democrats” who run them, praised the officers’ actions and said he was looking to sent agents to other cities.
He pointed to rising gun violence in the nation’s third-largest city, where more than 63 people were shot, 12 fatally, over the weekend.
“How about Chicago? Would you say they need help after this weekend?” Trump told reporters at the White House. “You know the numbers that you hear, the numbers? Many, many shot. Many, many killed.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois rejected any deployment of federal forces in Chicago, vowing to hold the “Trump administration and any such federal forces accountable for unconstitutional actions.”
None of the weekend shootings were connected to a Friday night protest where people marching against police brutality and racial injustice tried to topple a statue of Christopher Columbus, and Trump did not specifically reference that. Video shows officers using batons to beat protesters, some of whom threw fireworks, pieces of pipe and frozen bottles of water at police.
“We’re going to have more federal law enforcement, that I can tell you,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
Trump’s comments about Chicago come after the president of the local police officer’s union wrote him a letter asking “for help from the federal government” to help combat gun violence. The city has seen 414 homicides this year, compared with 275 during the same period last year.
Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara, a vocal supporter of Trump, called Lightfoot a “complete failure who is either unwilling or unable to maintain law and order,” but did not say what kind of help he was asking for or whether he wants federal troops to be sent to the city.
It’s not the first time Trump has made disparaging comments about Chicago leaders, and what he says is their inability to control violence. Just last month, Trump sent a letter criticizing Lightfoot and Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker for a “lack of leadership” in stemming gun violence. Lightfoot dismissed Trump’s letter as a “litany of nonsense.”
As for the protest Friday night, more than 20 complaints have been filed against police, according to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. They included claims of excessive force and unnecessary use of pepper spray. The agency is also investigating video of an officer striking 18-year-old Miracle Boyd, an activist who says at least one of her teeth was knocked out.
Lightfoot also said video had surfaced showing a small group of people had broken off from marching protesters, changed into black clothes and, using umbrellas to shield themselves from view, threw the items at police.
“That’s not peaceful protest, that’s anarchy and we are going to put that down,” she said.
Police Superintendent David Brown said 49 officers were injured, 18 of whom required hospital treatment.
“Peaceful demonstrations have been hijacked by organized mobs,” said Brown, adding that he will order officers to wear “any and all protective gear” at protests.