Trump Slams Supt. Johnson, Says Afghanistan Is Safer Than Chicago In Address At Police Chiefs Conference

WBBM Newsradio Staff
October 28, 2019 - 11:59 am

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO/AP) -- President Donald Trump slammed Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and the city's violence during his address Monday at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference and Exposition, held at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Johnson, the host of a gathering of police chiefs from around the country that Trump addressed, previously said he will not attend the speech because he opposes the administration's immigration policies.

"He feels that the values of the people of Chicago are more important than what the President has to say," said Chicago Police Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. "What he means by that is, we've been very clear on our position regarding how we treat individuals that live in the city.  We don't care where you're from. We don't care how you got to Chicago. We safeguard everybody that lives here."

Following that announcement, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 -- representing the rank-and-file Chicago police officers -- voted no-confidence in Supt. Eddie Johnson.

In response, Johnson made a statement, through police news affairs, saying: "I understand and respect that the Lodge is upset about the decision to not stand with the President. I can't in good conscience stand by while racial insults and hatred are cast from the oval office, or Chicago is held hostage because of our views on new Americans."

President Donald Trump disagreed with Johnson's choice and called his statement insulting after everything he has done for police.

"There is one person who is not here today. I said 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 Chicago Police, Eddie Johnson," Trump said Monday. "A few days ago, Johnson said quote, 'the values of the people of Chicago are more important than anything President Trump would have to say.' I don't think so, because that's a very insulting statement after all I've done for the police and I've done more than any other president has ever done for the police. Over 100 years we can prove it, but probably from the beginning; and he's a man who could not bother to show up for a meeting of police chiefs - most respected people of the country in his hometown and with the President of the United States.

"And you know why? It's because he's not doing his job," Trump continued. "Last year, 565 people were murdered in Chicago. Since Eddie Johnson has been police chief, more than 1,500 people have been murdered in Chicago and 13,067 people have been shot. During the first weekend in August 2019, seven people were murdered and 52 were wounded in 32 shootings in Chicago, and recently, they had 78 shootings over a weekend spree and three people killed. And Chicago has the toughest gun laws in the United States. That does not seem to be working too well does it? A lot of you people seem to know exactly what I mean, but under Johnson's leadership, they certainly don't protect people.

"Then you have the case of this wise guy Jussie Smollett, who beat up himself. And he said MAGA country did it, MAGA country. That's a hate crime, that's a hate crime. And it's a scam. It's a really big scam, just like the impeachment of your president is a scam. And then you look what's going on - Smollett is still trying to get away with it. He would have been better off if he paid his $100,000 bill," Trump continued. 

"Chicago is unfortunately the worst sanctuary city in America. Chicago protects criminals at a level few could even imagine. Last year in Cook County alone, ICE asked local law enforcement people to please, pretty please, we beg you, we'll do anything necessary to stop crime. We want to stop crime. Please detain 1,162 people, please, but in each case the detainer was denied and Eddie Johnson wants to talk about values. People like Johnson put criminals and illegal aliens before the citizens of Chicago and those are his values, and frankly, those values to me are a disgrace. I will never put the needs of illegal criminals before I put the needs of law-abiding citizens. It is very simple to me," Trump said as the crowd cheered.

"So when Eddie Johnson and lots of other people from many regions and areas support sanctuary cities, it's really in my opinion a betrayal of their oath to the shield and a violation to his duty to serve and to protect. The courageous police officers of Chicago, and I know some of them and they are some of the most incredible people, they can solve this problem quickly.

"It's embarrassing to us as a nation that all over the world they are talking about Chicago. Afghanistan is a safe place in comparison. It's true," Trump said. "Police officers of Chicago are entitled to a police superintendent who has their backs and knows what he is doing. You are entitled to a police superintendent who sides with you, with the people of Chicago. The people want this. And with the families of Chicago - not the criminals and the gang members that are here illegally and not the stupid politicians that have no idea what the hell they are doing."

Trump's visit to Chicago on Monday was his first to the city since taking office. His visit stirred up a tempest even before his arrival in the city, which he's repeatedly derided as the poster child of urban violence and Democratic politics.

The city's mayor, Lori Lightfoot, also refuses to meet with Trump. She's criticized him in the past for proposing a rule that would allow federal contractors to make employment decisions based on religious convictions, and she's pushed back against tweets from the president's daughter Ivanka Trump about the city's gun violence.

Trump has frequently slammed Chicago for its gun problems, describing the shootings as "horrible carnage," calling the city a "total disaster" and comparing it to Afghanistan.

The bad blood runs deep between Trump and politicians in the Windy City, which Democratic rival Hillary Clinton took by more than 70 percentage points in 2016.

Days into his presidency, Trump warned that if Chicago did not stem the violence, he would "send in the Feds." In 2016, the city recorded its bloodiest year in nearly two decades, with more than 760 homicides.

The Trump administration has followed up on the threat with action.

Over the last two years, the Justice Department has added a dozen criminal prosecutors to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago. In 2017, the department also created the Chicago Gun Strike Force, a partnership with the Chicago Police Department that led to 20 agents being added to the local Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms office.

Most of the gun violence occurs in a handful of low-income, predominantly African American neighborhoods on the city's South and West sides.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago reports a 44 percent increase in the number of defendants it has charged with gun-related offenses in 2019 compared with last year, a 15-year high for new prosecutions.

"We are using every available federal law enforcement tool to reduce violent crime and help keep our citizens safe," U.S. Attorney John Lausch said.

The number of homicides in the city has dropped 31 percent thus far in 2019, compared with the same point in 2016, and shooting incidents have decreased by 38 percent over that time period, according to Chicago Police Department data.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Trump's Justice Department deserves credit for helping the police department make strides in reducing gun violence.

"We've never had a partnership as with the U.S. Attorney's Office as we've had with John Lausch," Guglielmi said. "He's gone on ride-alongs with the superintendent on holiday weekends. He's at all the gun stat meetings."

The president's visit also comes at a complicated moment for the city. More than 25,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union have been on strike since Oct. 17.

Johnson is also under an internal investigation opened after he was found earlier this month sleeping in a city-owned vehicle.

Lightfoot said the superintendent, who called for the investigation, told her he had "a couple of drinks with dinner" before he fell asleep at a stop sign while driving home. Johnson said the episode was related to a change in his blood-pressure medication.

In addition to his address to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Trump is also scheduled to hold a campaign fundraiser.

The last time Trump visited Chicago was as a presidential candidate in 2016 for what was supposed to be a campaign rally on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. But after fights broke out between supporters and protesters awaiting his arrival at the arena, Trump canceled the event before taking the stage. He said that he consulted Chicago police before making the decision.

The city's top cop at the time, interim Superintendent John Escalante, said Trump's telling was not true.

Escalante said he believes the organizers of the rally canceled it because they could see that about half of the people inside the arena were anti-Trump.

"I think they saw that, and they didn't want to be embarrassed," Escalante said. "They could see it wasn't going to look good and told him, 'You are going to get shouted down,' and they made up this thing about safety concerns."

(WBBM Newsradio and The Associated Press contributed to this copy. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)