CHICAGO (CBS) — Shortly after President Donald Trump suggested it would be a good idea to sit down with Chicago gang leaders, and again said he might have to take matters into his own hands to address violent crime in the city, Mayor Rahm Emanuel essentially told the new president to put his money where his mouth is.
At a Black History Month meeting at the White House, an Ohio pastor said “some of the top gang thugs in Chicago” reached out to him for a “sit-down” to figure out how to “lower that body count” in exchange for social programs.
“I think that’s a great idea, because Chicago is totally out of control,” Trump said.
The president also doubled down on his threats to “send in the feds” to fix Chicago’s crime problems.
“If they’re not going to solve the problem — and what you’re doing is the right thing — then we’re going to solve the problem for them, because we’re going to have to do something about Chicago, because what’s happening in Chicago should not be happening in this country,” Trump added.
Mayor Emanuel said Trump should stop talking about crime in Chicago, and actually provide more federal resources for the city.
“Send more FBI, DEA, ATF agents. We don’t have to talk about it anymore. Just send them,” the mayor said Wednesday while meeting with young men taking part in the Becoming A Man mentoring program.
The mayor said he would like to see increased federal prosecutions of gun crimes, more money for youth mentoring and jobs programs, and additional federal agents to assist Chicago police in fighting gangs and gun violence.
“Invest in law enforcement with our Police Department. Every major city has to do more. Move more FBI, DEA, ATF. They do a great job. Use the ability to prosecute gun crimes at the federal level, and maximize that potential.”
The mayor said he has spoken repeatedly with the president, vice president, and the president’s chief of staff about getting more federal resources to address crime in Chicago — such as youth mentoring and summer jobs initiatives.
“In that sense, they are aware of what our requests are, and we will look forward to working with them on that,” he said. “Supporting our police officers, supporting our kids, investing in our neighborhoods and communities are key.”
Emanuel said he would like to see more federal funding for youth mentoring so the city can expand the BAM program from three years to five years. He said the program is currently open to young men in grades 8-10, and he wants it opened to students in 7th and 11th grades as well.
“I’m a father of three. It takes you 18 years, and sometimes longer, to be a role model, guidance; somebody that pushes, pulls, nurtures. These young men need all of that and more,” he said.
The mayor also said, while the city’s summer jobs program has expanded from 14,000 to 31,000 kids in recent years, federal support for the program has been reduced.
“Give these kids a summer job. Help give them not only a paycheck, but a résumé that goes with it, so the next time they apply for a job they can prove that they actually had. You know how hard it is yourselves, that first job,” he said.
Emanuel said he does not know why Trump seems so fixated on Chicago violence.
“He’s an investor in Chicago, so obviously he believes in it,” he said.
The mayor called Chicago a “fabulous city” and pointed to recent accomplishments like Major League Soccer choosing Soldier Field to host its 2017 All-Star Game, and Peoria-based Caterpillar choosing Chicago for its new global headquarters. Emanuel said the federal government needs to invest more in economic development in Chicago, and to in programs that will help its youth take advantage of that progress.
“We will never be the city we can be unless also these young men not only believe in themselves, but all that potential investment – that is happening, that does make Chicago a great city – that they also can participate,” he said.
Last week, Trump threatened in a Tweet that he would “send in the feds” if Chicago couldn’t get a grip on its violent crime issues.
Trump and White House aides have provided few specifics about what he has in mind. Spokesman Sean Spicer last week said federal help could come from a variety of sources.
“I think what the president is upset about is turning on the television and seeing Americans get killed by shootings; seeing people walking down the street and getting shot down; the President of the United States giving his farewell address and two people being killed that day,” Spicer said. “What he wants to do is provide the resources of the federal government, and it can span a bunch of things. There’s no one thing. There can be aid. It can be – if it was requested up through the governor through the proper channels – that the federal government can provide on a law enforcement basis. But there’s other aid that can be extended as well, either through the U.S. Attorney’s office, or other means that will ensure that the people of Chicago have the resources to feel safe. That’s what he means.”
Chicago had more than 760 murders in 2016, the highest number in 19 years. The first month of 2017 saw that trend continue, with 51 homicides in January, one more than January 2016.