A week ago, President Barack Obama delivered a farewell address in his adopted hometown — celebrating Chicago as the city where he learned about the “power of faith,” and calling it a place where change can happen when ordinary people get involved.
On Friday, within hours of his swearing in, President Donald Trump memorialized the city for its violence, once again: “There were thousands of shootings in Chicago last year alone,” according to a new page on Trump’s revamped White House website.
It’s on a page about “standing up” for the law enforcement community — a page with a tone far different from that of the report about the Chicago Police Department issued by Obama’s U.S. Department of Justice last week.
“Our country needs more law enforcement, more community engagement and more effective policing,” the site reads, adding the administration will be “a law and order administration” where the “dangerous anti-police atmosphere” will end.
This isn’t the first time Trump has highlighted Chicago’s violence problem.
Trump last year compared Chicago to a “war-torn country” during the first presidential debate, and he focused on Chicago’s murder numbers at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last year — using it to jab at Obama, who at the time was making a big push for Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“You don’t have good community relations in Chicago. It’s terrible. I have property there. It’s terrible what’s going on in Chicago,” Trump said at the televised debate.
Trump brought up Chicago when asked about race and how to bridge a “wide and bitter gap” in the wake of police shootings of African-Americans.
“You walk down the street, you get shot,” Trump said. “In Chicago, they’ve had thousands of shootings, thousands since Jan. 1. Thousands of shootings. And I say, where is this? Is this a war-torn country? What are we doing?”
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And last August, Trump told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that violence in Chicago would stop “in a week” with “tough police tactics” if police were given “the authority to do it.”
Trump said his source was an unnamed “top” Chicago police officer. But the Chicago Police Department denied that Trump met with a top cop.
Trump also voiced his support for stop and frisk policies to reduce crime, making the suggestion again on Fox News. He later clarified he only meant Chicago.
“I was really referring to Chicago with stop and frisk,” he told “Fox and Friends” during a phone interview. “They asked me about Chicago and I was talking about stop and frisk for Chicago.”
Obama had to address Chicago’s gun violence time and again during his presidency. In February 2013, Michelle Obama attended the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old high school student caught in gang crossfire near the Obamas’ Kenwood home. She had performed during Obama’s second inauguration just a week prior to her death.
Later that month, Obama used his State of the Union speech to push gun control measures.
Although Trump evoked Chicago frequently during the campaign, his only public visit was to the Polish National Alliance headquarters in September. A March rally last year at the UIC Pavilion was canceled due to safety concerns. Trump visited Chicago — staying at his Trump Tower — several times during the campaign, however, for private fundraisers.