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West Side Democrat: Chicago should welcome president — not be ‘Trump-free zone’

State Rep. La Shawn Ford, left, talks with the Sun-Times Editorial Board last year. File photo. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times; President Donald Trump pauses during a campaign rally in Tampa, Florida, last month. (AP File Photo/Evan Vucci).

A West Side Democrat says Mayor Rahm Emanuel should work more closely with President Donald Trump to bring resources to Chicago to combat the gun violence epidemic — declaring that the city isn’t a “Trump-free zone.”

Appearing on Fox & Friends on Monday morning, state Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, said Emanuel should work with Trump to help the communities most affected by violence. Weekend shootings left 12 dead and 59 others wounded and brought Chicago once again in the national spotlight for gun violence.

Much of the violence happened on the West Side in Ford’s 8th House District. Ford told the Sun-Times three people were shot, one fatally, just steps from his church at 7 a.m.: “That’s unbelievable,” he said.

The lawmaker took to Republican friendly airwaves to push the mayor to work with the Republican president, despite Emanuel’s longstanding legal and political battle against Trump. Emanuel’s feud against Trump in a Democratic city is considered a no-risk battle to try to rebuild the mayor’s national image and his popularity among Chicago Hispanics most threatened by Trump’s immigration policies, and by the president’s threat to cut off funding to sanctuary cities.

But Ford argues the feud is not without costs.

“The mayor should be working closely with Trump. He should be working closely with the Labor Department, and he should be working with the U.S. HUD [Department of Housing and Urban Development], the [U.S.] Surgeon General, because there’s so much trauma on the West and South sides of Chicago,” Ford said.

“We can’t do that by being divided,” Ford said. “I’m not going to throw the mayor under the bus. I want to let him know I want to work with him. … As long as we’re divided and fighting against the president, it’s not going to happen.”

Ford told the Chicago Sun-Times he “welcomes Trump in Chicago, without a doubt.”

“To me, it’s not a Trump-free zone. Illinois sends more taxpayer dollars to the federal government than most states and we have to make sure our tax dollars are being used correctly,” Ford said.

But, Ford said he believes “the only way the president should come here is if he’s coming to announce something strong, a comprehensive plan to help us in Chicago, to help us in Illinois deal with it [violence].”

Emanuel called Chicago a “Trump-free zone” last September in a visit to a Southwest Side school where nearly a third of students are undocumented immigrants. His comments were made in reference to Trump’s decision to put an end to a President Barack Obama-era program giving legal protections to undocumented immigrants — down as Dreamers — who were brought to the U.S. as children.

“Chicago — our schools our neighborhoods, our city, as it relates to what President Trump said — will be a Trump-free zone. You have nothing to worry about,” Emanuel told a group of Hispanic students on the first day of school.

Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson on Monday were asked about Ford’s comments. Johnson argued that he didn’t think the relationship between Police and the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency [DEA] and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [ATF] has “ever been as strong as it is right now.”

“We are already working and doing those things,” Johnson said. “Could we do better? Yes. But at the end of the day the responsibility of things we saw this weekend is everyone’s responsibility.”

Emanuel did not directly address Ford’s push for him to work more closely with the president, but instead said it’s easy to point the fingers at others.

“The criminal and criminal activity and the gang have to be raised rather than just say what do the police do, what are the feds doing? Which are good questions but not in lieu of another set of questions. Not in lieu of asking where is the individual or the gang or the culture that condones rather than condemns?” Emanuel said.

“Collectively and I want to repeat in the very neighborhoods where this happened there are good people who hold up the values it takes to create moral center for a neighborhood and community and there are those who rip at it and if you know that they cannot be part of it, they tear at the fabric.”

Later Tuesday, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, joined in the call for Emanuel to swallow his pride and ask Trump for policing help.

Giuliani exacerbated the Tweet-storm he started Sunday attacking Emanuel for the weekend violence after former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik was quoted as saying that Emanuel’s “failed leadership and mismanagement” was “solely responsible for young people being slaughtered” and called for federal intervention.

“Bernie is right. Emmanuel should ask President @realDonaldTrump for help… too many lost lives. No politics just save lives. It doesn’t matter what neighborhoods it’s happening, all loss of life is tragic and we must all work together to stop it now,” Giuliani tweeted.

Over the weekend, Giuliani fired off several tweets as the body count rose to record levels in Chicago. Too bad he got McCarthy’s name wrong.

“Chicago murders are direct result of one party Democratic rule for decades,” Giuliani tweeted.

“Policing genius Jerry McCarthy can do for Chicago what I did for NYC. He was one of the architects of Compstat. Slashed homicides over 70%. Tens of thousands of lives saved.”

That was followed by another tweet that got McCarthy’s name right, but misspelling Emanuel’s.

“Give Garry McCarthy your support @Garry4Chicago. Tomorrow I will get you information to contribute. MAKE CHICAGO SAFE AGAIN! He can do a lot better than Mayor Emmanuel who is fiddling while Chicago burns,” Giuliani wrote.

On Monday, the former New York City mayor then sent a third tweet that greatly exaggerated the body count in Chicago.

“63 murders this weekend in Rahm Emmanuel’s Chicago. His legacy more murders in his city than ever before. It’s only because of Democrat brain washing that he has even a chance of remaining. Support police professional Garry McCarthy,” Giuliani wrote

Tuesday’s tweet also misspelling Emanuel’s last name makes it clear that the oversight was deliberate.

Trump has a complicated history with Chicago, a city he often chides for its violence and murder rate. Although Trump invoked Chicago frequently during his run for the presidency, his only public campaign visit was to the Polish National Alliance headquarters in September 2017.

A March rally in 2016 at the UIC Pavilion was canceled over safety concerns as protesters flooded the arena. Trump visited Chicago — staying at his Trump Tower — several times during the campaign for private fundraisers. And he visited Illinois for the first time since taking office last month at a Granite City steel plant.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner — locked in an intense re-election campaign and working hard to distance himself from Trump — had a full slate of events the day Trump visited Granite City. And the governors’ office said that the White House knew Rauner “couldn’t be there anyway.”

Contributing: Fran Spielman