On Monday, Donald Trump took his merry band of misanthropes to Chicago, Illinois. It was his first visit to one of the largest cities in America. On the docket was the same type of speechifying he has given for the last 3+ years: filled with made-up facts, pretend conversations with people who call him “sir,” and attempts at applause breaks by attacking some group or groups of people. The conservative movement has always used Chicago and gun violence in Chicago as a catchall response to everything from calls for gun safety laws to the need for more liberal social policies.
Since Trump is just every conservative trope stewed in a vat of racism, white male terror and entitlement, unleashed into our national conversation, Trump decided to attack Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. During an international gathering of police chiefs at McCormick Place, Trump called Chicago a “disgrace” around the world because of how ineffective Superintendent Johnson and his police force have been in stopping gun violence and crime.
These attacks weren’t a surprise as Johnson had boycotted the police chief gathering because of Donald Trump. Still, as always happens, the insults were hyperbolic and cruel and idiotic and petty. Pointing out that Chief Johnson’s absence was ungrateful and after “all the things I’ve done for law enforcement,” Trump went on to attack the entire city of Chicago. Calling Chicago the “worst sanctuary city in America,” Trump equated the Windy City’s sanctuary policies with terrifying crime rates. Trump claimed that Afghanistan was “safer” than Chicago, and "People like Johnson put criminals and illegal aliens before the citizens of Chicago and those are his values and frankly those values, to me, are a disgrace."
Superintendent Johnson held his own press conference to respond to the misinformation and attacks hurled at Chicago by the white supremacist in chief, reminding people that while the city still had problems, "I want to remind people we also have 17 neighborhoods in the city that are safer than Manhattan and L.A." Johnson also addressed Trump’s umbrella statements that it is Chicago’s sanctuary policies that have led to all of this imaginary crime, saying, “In sanctuary cities, what we don’t want to do is make the immigrant population fear the police because when crimes happen in those communities we want them to feel comfortable enough to come to us with those issues.”
One of Johnson’s most poignant statements on the matter was this: "Today the same police officers the president criticized for their inability to protect this city spent all day protecting him."
Trump’s conscious or unconscious divide-and-conquer style is probably the most dangerous when he speaks to any group of people in our country’s security apparatus. Like any dictator, Trump’s intentions are to pit the people with the guns and the jails against anyone who might challenge his authority. The easiest people to scapegoat have always been communities of color and immigrants perceived to be just arriving into the country. But when all is said and done, the America that people like Donald Trump have in their minds does not include anyone who questions their corrupt and inhumane policies. To Trump, we are all dissidents.
Here’s a side by side of Trump and Johnson’s statements.
You can watch Johnson’s full press conference below: