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Sweet: Trump opines on Chicago crime; skips city in suburban stop

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016, in Melbourne, Fla. | John Locher/AP

Donald Trump compared Chicago to a “war-torn country” at Monday’s debate, though he has never visited any of the city’s neighborhoods affected by gun violence during his presidential campaign.

And he is skipping a chance to see for himself on Wednesday, when he stops in southwest suburban Bolingbrook for a fundraiser.

Trump has been increasingly talking about Chicago’s murder woes since the Republican convention in Cleveland in July, focusing on crime in Chicago because it’s President Barack Obama’s adopted hometown.

It’s an easy way to jab at the president, and by extension, Hillary Clinton.
Since Obama has become president, there have been more than 4,200 homicides in Chicago.

“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 Monday night at the first presidential debate at Hofstra University.

The property is Trump International Hotel and Towers at 405 N. Wabash. If what Trump knows about Chicago is from his “property,” then his lens is through a high-end hotel in an upper-income area perched along the Chicago River and the Michigan Avenue shopping mecca.

OPINION

It’s not where the shootings the city is grappling with are happening.

In late August, Trump told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that violence in Chicago would stop “in a week” with “tough police tactics” with the solution in reach if only police were given “the authority to do it.”

Trump said on O’Reilly’s show that his source for this information was an unnamed “top” Chicago police officer.

The Chicago Police Department denied that Trump met with a top cop.

In the days before the debate, Trump was ramping up his call to use controversial and unconstitutional stop and frisk practices in order to reduce crime, making the suggestion in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity last Wednesday.

Last Thursday, Trump said he was only talking about Chicago.

“I was really referring to Chicago with stop and frisk,” he told “Fox and Friends” during a phone interview Thursday morning. “They asked me about Chicago and I was talking about stop and frisk for Chicago.”
There is no reason to sugarcoat Chicago’s problem with murders. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff — who handled crime issues when he worked in the Bill Clinton White House — has been struggling.

The Justice Department is probing Chicago’s police practices in the wake of the death of Laquan McDonald, the 17-year-old African-American who was shot by police.

Trump started talking about crime — making Chicago the centerpiece of his remarks — when the debate moderator, NBC News’ Lester Holt, asked Clinton and Trump about race and how they would “bridge a wide and bitter gap” in the wake of police shootings of African-Americans, most recently in Tulsa and Charlotte.

“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?”

Stop and frisk is off the table because it targets minorities and a judge said it’s not legal.

Trump is doing well enough that he could beat Clinton and be president. It would be useful in talking about crime in Chicago if Trump understood more how difficult the situation is here: stopping criminals from obtaining guns, and associated issues of race, poverty, policing.

On Thursday, Trump will be at the Bolingbrook Golf Club for a lunch, where the ticket prices range from $1,000 to $10,000 per person, according to the invitation.

The host committee includes former Bears Coach Mike Ditka and his wife Diane; Cubs board member Todd Ricketts, who is leading a super PAC boosting Trump; business executive Ron Gidwitz; Reps. Darin LaHood and John Shimkus; and Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar.

Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, will be in Chicago for a reception Wednesday with Ditka, at an event where the tab goes from $500 to $10,000 per person.
Those events, in lovely venues, are about the money.

But if Trump wants to talk about crime in Chicago, come walk our streets and talk to the cops, victims, community leaders, government officials, academics.
Since you can’t bring back stop and frisk, Mr. Trump, then what can you do?

FOOTNOTE: Clinton hits Chicago on Thursday for fundraisers, including a big event aimed a lawyers at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.