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Trump calls Chicago ’embarrassing to nation’ during first visit as president

President calls city haven for criminals at event boycotted by mayor and police superintendent

By The Guardian Staff and Agencies

On a visit to Chicago on Monday, his first time as president, Donald Trump disparaged the city as a haven for criminals that is “embarrassing to us as a nation”.

He lambasted the city’s top police officer, who had already announced he was shunning the event that Trump principally came to town for. Chicago’s mayor also stayed away from the president.

The Chicago police superintendent, Eddie Johnson, sat out Trump’s speech to a national convention of police officers that was being held in the city, in order to protest the president’s immigration policies and frequently divisive rhetoric, he had said.

Trump shot back at the event: “There is one person who is not here today.” He went on: “Where is he? I want to talk to him. In fact, more than anyone else, this person should be here because maybe he could learn something, and that’s the superintendent of the Chicago police, Eddie Johnson.”

Johnson’s decision to boycott the event angered the city’s chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, which said in a Facebook post: “Such a gesture would be an insult to both President Trump and the office of the presidency itself and would be a mark of disgrace upon the city throughout the entire nation, including mayor Lori Lightfoot.”

But Lightfoot, a Democrat and the relatively newly elected mayor of the city, and Illinois’ Democratic governor stood in solidarity with Johnson.

“This is the land of Lincoln and when you come to the state of Illinois, you should respect all the people who live here in the state of Illinois,” said the governor, JB Pritzker.

“It’s no surprise that @realDonaldTrump brought his insulting, ignorant buffoonery to Chicago,” the mayor tweeted. “Luckily, in this city, we know the truth and we will not let anyone no matter how high the office denigrate who we are as a people or our status as a welcoming city.”

Trump has frequently criticized Chicago for its crime problems and status as a sanctuary city, one of scores of cities around the country that refuse to work with federal authorities to round up people who are living in the US illegally.

At a news conference later on Monday, Johnson said Trump had ignored a “double-digit” reduction in violent crime over the past three years.

Trump has long held up Chicago as the poster child of urban violence and dysfunctional Democratic politics.

He was attending the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference and a political fundraiser.

The FOP Lodge 7, which represents rank-and-file Chicago police officers, meanwhile, announced that it had cast a vote of no confidence in Johnson. The union president, Kevin Graham, greeted Trump after he landed in the city.

In the speech, Trump rattled off Chicago crime statistics and claimed that Johnson puts the needs of people living in the US illegally above those of “law-abiding residents” of Chicago. He called the city “embarrassing”.

Trump signed an executive order creating a presidential commission on law enforcement to study issues including substance abuse, homelessness and mental illness, and announced a federal crackdown on violent crime.

Then he headlined a campaign luncheon at his hotel in the city.

Thousands of demonstrators rallied outside, waving signs that said “Impeach Trump now” and “Quid pro quo, Trump must go”. Some also chanted “Lock him up”, in an echo of what Trump faced at the World Series baseball game he attended in Washington the evening before.

This article originally appeared in The Guardian.

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