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Natalie Moore: Woe to cities like Chicago under President Trump

While presidential candidate Donald Trump held a fundraiser in Chicago on July 12, community activists decried his criticism of the city and "abhorrent language." | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago’s crime problem will be solved on Jan. 27, 2017.

That’s one week after Donald Trump is inaugurated as this nation’s 45th president. On the campaign Trump said he talked to a Chicago police officer who said crime could be solved in a mere week. He didn’t name this officer, and a Chicago Police Department spokesman said Trump never met with top brass.

OPINION

Of course we all know crime won’t be solved in a week after Trump takes office, and I’m inclined to believe he doesn’t believe that either. But Candidate Trump sure did like to make Chicago a scapegoat while barnstorming. In one interview, he managed to lump in stereotypes and tropes in a serving bigger than a Thanksgiving plate.

“We have a situation where we have our inner cities — African-Americans, Hispanics are living in hell because it’s so dangerous. You walk down the street, you get shot. In Chicago, they’ve had thousands of shootings … And I say, where is this? Is this is a war-torn country? What are we doing?”

Despite being a denizen of New York City, Trump has no real comprehension of urban centers, places he routinely degradedly calls “inner cities” filled with “the blacks.” His solutions include the reviled stop and frisk. Trump also said blacks had nothing to lose by voting for him because our neighborhoods pretty much suck.

Nobody knows what a Trump Administration will look like over the next four years. If he indeed wants to be the president for everyone and fix broken cities, he’s got a long way to go. Chicago is beautiful and troubled, struggling and resilient. We need help. But we are not the sum of our violence. Democratic policies have not always worked or been enforced. Much ado is made about disaffected working-class whites who voted for him, but that’s not the only demographic struggling in the economy. Deindustrialization is not the province of rural or white America; we see it in our urban centers, too.

So far Trump has given little indication that he’s serious about helping cities or even listening to what residents — particularly black and brown ones — want. Law and order – a staple in his stump speeches — is not the call out that I hear. Neither are cutbacks in the U.S. Department of Education.

“What my advice to Donald Trump would be is to take note of what mayors are saying. City government is closer to the people than state or federal government,” said Twyla Blackmond Larnell, who teaches urban and race politics at Loyola University.

She said a number of mayors have spoken out against Trump because his policies don’t seem to fall in line for what cities are asking of their federal government. Larnell recommends he read Benjamin Barber’s “If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities” to
understand the roles and responsibilities of local government.

“As much as we give Rahm Emanuel a hard time in Chicago, given his connections to national politics and networks, he may be the kind of mayor that’s needed to insulate us from Trump’s most extreme policies particularly as it relates to immigration,” Larnell said.

Emanuel was one of the first mayors to make a speech about protecting undocumented workers. Trump has argued removing all federal funding from these “sanctuary cities,” although that’s not something he can swiftly do with just the stroke of a pen as president.

I could futilely come up with a reading list for Trump and suggestions for him to understand cities beyond his gilded New York City 5th Avenue. His racist flame-throwing and openness to white nationalism and subsequent comments about government that are eighth-grade remedial at best leave me disheartened about what urban centers have in store for the next four years.

Natalie Y. Moore is a reporter for WBEZ and author of “The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation.” 

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