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Congressman Mike Quigley

Representing the 5th District of Illinois

Crain's Chicago Business: President Trump, Please Stop Bullying Chicago

Feb 2, 2017
Editorials

The following article was published by Crain's Chicago Business on February 2, 2017. A link to the article can be found here.

By Rep. Quigley

In the fast-paced, evolving media coverage of the new administration, it's hard to remember what outrageous claim or attack President Donald Trump made and when. Unfortunately, despite the onslaught of offenses and barrage of new policies coming from the Oval Office, we must continue to hold the president accountable for each and every action intended to roll back progress, safety or opportunity for American families—from sweeping executive orders to 140-character tweets.

Less than a week ago, Trump attacked Chicago in one of his late-night Twitter rants. He called out our city's "carnage," threatening to "send in the Feds" as a means to address gun violence. Not only is this type of language reckless and misguided, it is also a gross overreach of federal power.

The president would be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't believe that gun violence, both in Chicago and across this country, is a national tragedy that requires immediate and substantial action. But his casual suggestion of martial law is the absolute wrong way to address the issue.

The problem is that, when Trump attacks Chicago, he is not attacking our elevated rates of violence. He is attacking the people who live here. Chicago ranks eighth in homicides when adjusted for population. Neighboring cities like Indianapolis and Milwaukee average similar violence per capita. Homicide rates per capita in St. Louis double that of Chicago.

Worse, a study by the city of Chicago in 2015 found that almost 60 percent of firearms recovered at Chicago crime scenes were first bought in states that do not require background checks for internet or gun show sales, such as neighboring Indiana and Wisconsin. I encourage Trump to speak with Vice President Mike Pence, who formerly served as Indiana's governor, about other ways we can combat the increase of guns crossing our border illegally.

So, what exactly did Trump mean when he stated he would "send in the Feds"? Unfortunately, the president has not been willing to elaborate, but we know that his solution is unwarranted. The city of Chicago already has capable officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and almost every other federal agency working in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department. If we want to support these professionals in their efforts to protect and serve the city of Chicago and its residents, we should commit to providing them with additional resources.

Instead of pursuing a thoughtful and measured response, Trump insinuated the use of federal law enforcement and militarized troops to patrol the streets. Not only would this option constitute a blatant federal overreach, but it would cause further mistrust among a community that has already struggled with lost confidence and trust in its police department.

Exacerbating the situation in Chicago will only endanger citizens more. To put this into context, the last time federal troops were dispatched by a president to serve a police function was in 1957, when President Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock, Ark., to maintain order. This move only added to existing tensions and escalated an already violent situation. The outcome would likely be the same in Chicago.

If the president is truly serious about helping address the situation in Chicago, and in other major cities across the country, he should send Congress a budget request that restores funding for critical Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security programs. These programs have been severely cut since Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives in 2011, and we have seen the consequences. I will continue to encourage the funding of these programs so that local law enforcement can hire officers, bolster prosecutions, provide drug treatment and prevent terrorist attacks.

We also cannot forget the desperate need for pragmatic gun laws in our nation. The tragedy that exists with every death as a result of gun violence is exponentially enhanced by the tragedy of our inaction.

There is a lot a president can do to help save lives. Funding for police officers and support for gun control legislation are the two areas where President Trump should start.

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