CHICAGO (CBS) — President Trump called the gun violence in Chicago “horrible carnage,” comparing the city to a “war zone” with “people being shot left and right.”
“Afghanistan is not like what is happening in Chicago,” the president said in an exclusive interview with ABC’s David Muir on Wednesday night.
Trump wrote on Twitter this week that he will “send in the Feds” if the city doesn’t solve gang violence. His remarks Wednesday were in a response to a question from Muir, who pressed the president for specifics on what form the federal assistance might take.
The president never offered details. “They are not doing the job. Now, if they want help, I would love to help them,” he said. “I will send in what we have to send in.”
“You can’t have thousands of people being shot in a city, in a country that I happen to be president of. … It can’t be a great city if people are shot walking down the street for a loaf of bread.”
In 2016, more the 760 people were murdered in Chicago, the highest number since the mid 1990s. The majority of those killings were directly attributed to gang violence.
The bulk of the deaths and shooting incidents, which jumped from 2,426 in 2015 to 3,550 last year, occurred in only five neighborhoods on the city’s South and West sides, all poor and predominantly black areas where gangs are most active.
Police Supt. Eddie Johnson has said police won’t make much headway, even with planned new hires, until Illinois lawmakers get tougher on repeat gun offenders.
“In Chicago, we just don’t have a deterrent to pick up a gun,” he said on New Year’s Day. “Any time a guy stealing a loaf of bread spends more time pre-trial in jail than a gun offender, something is wrong.”
Several aldermen said they hope Trump was not suggesting he’d order in National Guard troops, as Fox News host Bill O’Reilly suggested on his show on Tuesday, not long before Trump’s tweet about sending in the feds.
“If I were president, I’d say, ‘You know what? The next month, we’re going to have the Guard in these neighborhoods to stop this,” O’Reilly said.
Emanuel said he welcomes federal help in fighting crime; if that means more prosecutions for illegal guns, tracking firearms, and boosting jobs and youth programs. However, he said he would oppose any suggestion to bring in the National Guard.
“As it comes to safety and security, and dealing with gangs and guns, you want the federal resources that are set up to deal with that,” he said.
The mayor said that means federal law enforcement agencies – the DEA, FBI and ATF – not troops.
“The National Guard has nothing to do with public safety” he said.
Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) noted, in the past, Trump has said Chicago could solve its crime problem “in a week” if police were tougher, so he is waiting to find out what Trump meant by threatening to send in the feds.
“We do need the federal government to come into Chicago a little more aggressively, but not boots. What we need is federal money for housing, federal money for employment training, federal money for mentorship, federal money for new bridges and streets” he said.