President Donald Trump’s vague tweet that he’d “send in the Feds” to reduce Chicago’s gun violence was embraced by some aldermen -- so long as it means the new president will pony up more federal money and other resources instead of deploying National Guard troops.
“The bottom line is we do need federal help, but we need federal help for affordable housing, we need federal help for additional police, we need federal help for repairing our bridges and roads,” said Ald. Ricardo Munoz, 22nd Ward. “So he’s half right. The feds do need to come into the city, but not with boots on the ground.”
Trump’s tweet, posted late Tuesday, didn’t offer any specifics. During a press briefing on Wednesday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer didn’t elaborate much further, saying the president wants to provide Chicago with more federal resources and specifically mentioned the U.S. Attorney’s office.
“Next we’ll hopefully get a dialogue started with Mayor Emanuel and try and figure out what a path forward would be so we can come up with a plan that would keep the people of Chicago safe,” Spicer said.
He did not mention sending in the National Guard. City officials on Wednesday said that deploying troops would be a potentially catastrophic move and ultimately hurt the city’s image.
"I'm against it, straight up," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel during a press conference. "We're going through a process of reinvigorating community policing, building trust between the community and law enforcement. (Sending in the National Guard is) antithetical to the spirit of what community policing is."
Emanuel said the city does need more federal assistance to help reduce Chicago's gun violence. He said things like more federal funding for after-school programs and partnerships between federal law enforcement entities and the Chicago Police Department could go a long way in combating violence.
Aldermen also said they do not want National Guard troops patrolling city streets for a host of reasons.
“It would never be helpful to have a police state here,” said Ald. Michelle Harris, 8th Ward. “Chicago is No. 1 a tourist attraction. It just sends the wrong message that our streets are so unsafe that we got to have another form government come in and take control. And that’s not the truth.”
Munoz said sending in troops could further stoke tensions in communities already weary of policing. A week before Trump’s inauguration, the U.S. Department of Justice released its long-awaited report on the Chicago Police Department that found, in part, officers were poorly trained and needlessly used need deadly force.
“We don’t need federal troops who don’t know the neighborhoods,” he said.
Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th Ward, said he hopes the president’s tweet means the Trump administration will help the city overcome its many financial challenges that have been holding the city back.
“If it means sending some more infrastructure resources and it means sending money to fix our schools and help fix our budget, I’m happy to have it,” he said.
Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said on Tuesday that he "more than willing to work with the federal government to build on our partnerships."
Munoz said he’d be happy to hear more details from the Trump about how he plans to reduce the city’s gun violence.
“I believe that the president has an ill-conceived notion of how cities work, and that’s why you can’t design public policy based on 40 characters,” Munoz said.
Should the president visit Chicago to get a better sense of what’s going on?
“He tried and he was protested out,” Munoz said.