Trump writes letter criticizing Chicago violence; Gov. Pritzker, Mayor Lightfoot dismiss it as 'stunt'

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Saturday, June 27, 2020
Pritzker, Lightfoot dismiss Trump letter on Chicago violence as 'stunt'
Gov. Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot both dismissed the letter as a stunt to distract from the rising COVID-19 cases around the country.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The violence in Chicago has once again gotten the attention of President Donald Trump.

The president wrote a letter to Governor JB Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot criticizing their response to recent violence, which the mayor and governor quickly dismissed as a political stunt.

The letter comes after roughly 70 people were shot last weekend in Chicago, including several children.

RELATED: Chicago's top cop addresses violent weekend amid calls to defund police

The president called Chicago "a great American city," but accused the mayor and governor of falling short as leaders.

In his letter, President Trump said he is "horrified" by the recent surge in weekend violence in the city, highlighting several victims, including 3-year-old Mekhi James. Trump also compared Chicago violence to combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He also wrote that "your lack of leadership on this important issue continues to fail the people you have sworn to protect," and claimed he "will continue to lead the way to support historically disadvantaged communities."

He criticized the mayor and governor for the state and city's taxes, and touted his recent executive order on policing. He offered to help the city with its violence by having leaders here meet with members of his Cabinet.

The president went on to tout his work on criminal justice and policing reform, saying that despite receiving millions of federal dollars, "the safety of your most vulnerable communities continues to deteriorate."

Trump closed the letter by saying, "Unfortunately, you continue to put your own political interest ahead of the lives, safety and fortunes of your own citizens. The people of Chicago deserve better."

Pritzker and Lightfoot both quickly issued responses brushing the president's letter off.

"President Trump is a failure who has once again resorted to a press stunt in order to detract from his long list of failures, especially his response to the deadly coronavirus and nationwide calls for racial justice," said Pritzker's press secretary in a statement. "The people of this state and this nation have unfortunately come to expect his unhinged attempts to politicize tragedy with his predictable and worn-out strategy to distract, distract, distract. The Governor stands with the Mayor in working to accomplish meaningful change."

Lightfoot also responded with a statement, 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. It is despicable, disgusting and all too typical. Same old tired playbook. How about some leadership not steeped in the divide and conquer tactics? I stand with the Governor in providing for the safety and well-being of our residents."

The mayor and governor saying they stand with each other and both accuse the president of being divisive.

COVID-19 cases in much of the country, especially the South and West, have been surging in recent days with Texas and Florida recording their highest numbers of new cases for several days in a row. Some governors are now taking steps to stop or roll back reopening plans to protect public health.

Chicago violence has been a favorite topic for the president to lash out about. In 2017 he tweeted he'd "Send the Feds!" to Chicago, and more comments later that year provoked a scolding from the ACLU. He has often spread false information about gun laws in the city as well.

In 2019 he made his first visit to the city after canceling his 2016 campaign rally at UIC following protests, speaking at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference, which then-CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson boycotted. Trump lashed out at Johnson and the city during that speech as well.

In May, after violent protests around the death of George Floyd, Lightfoot had strong words for the president after he tweeted that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."

"I will code what I really want to say to Donald Trump," she said at the time. "It's two words. It begins with F, and it ends with U."