Why Trump’s threat to ‘send in the Feds’ won’t help Chicago

(CNN)On New Year’s Eve, over 700 Chicagoans marched down the city’s iconic Michigan Avenue to the center of the city to be heard by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Each participant held a wooden cross that represented one homicide victim lost to Chicago’s violence epidemic that plagues small pockets of neighborhoods on the city’s South and West sides. These are communities that have been politically, economically and socially neglected to a violent detriment.

After a spike in violence over the holiday, then-President-elect Donald Trump took to twitter, calling out Emanuel, and offering the cursory promise of federal assistance. As Trump tweeted then, “Chicago murder rate is record setting – 4,331 shooting victims with 762 murders in 2016. If Mayor can’t do it he must ask for Federal help!” Now as President of the United States he is at it again. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that he will “send in the Feds” if Chicago doesn’t fix “horrible carnage going on.”

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Make no mistake, when Trump focuses on the “Chicago problem,” he is suggesting that black people, and the communities they live in, are “out of control.” This conflation becomes all the more disturbing when considering Trump’s approach to solving these issues. On June 29, 2015, Trump sat down with the Chicago Tribune editorial board to discuss his approach to curbing violence: “Crime in Chicago is out of control. … You’re not going to stop it by being nice. You’re going to stop it by being one tough son of a bitch.”
Chicago is politically convenient for him. Trump uses it to stoke white fears about the specter of supposedly “dangerous” black people and uncontrollable city streets, positioning himself as the heavy-handed authoritarian who can reclaim order.
On the campaign trail in August 2016, Trump promised that he alone could stop the violence in Chicago “in one week” by being tougher. This rhetoric translated to a concrete policy recommendation to reinstate stop-and-frisk practices known to be racially biased and inefficient in stopping violent crime.
In New York, for example, (a case study that Trump inaccurately believes is a model for success) 90% of the people stopped by police were blacks and Latinos who had committed no crime. Of the few who were arrested, officers charged offenders with nothing more serious than possession of marijuana. These data reveal little about how such practices violate the rights of law-abiding people of color and erode trust between law enforcement and communities.

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We all need to care about Chicago, but President Trump’s misguided get-tough approach to violence prevention reduces Chicago to a type of pawn for his political self-interest. If Trump is serious about providing federal assistance, it must come in the form of social services, improved education, job training, counseling and violence intervention services that supplement the work of police officers, the type of “help” that researchers agree will curb violence without denying people their dignity or rights.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/04/opinions/real-help-for-chicago-van-cleve-opinion/index.html

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