As he has a tendency to do—especially when it comes to black or brown strongholds, from San Juan to Baltimore—Donald Trump trashed Chicago and its police superintendent during a speech Monday before a group of top cops.
Trump’s visit to Chicago to speak before the International Association of Chiefs of Police was his first to the city since occupying the Oval Office, reports the Chicago Tribune, and he came for the Windy City and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
Johnson attended the opening day of the police chiefs conference on Saturday, but boycotted Trump’s Monday speech, calling it unaligned with the city’s or his own values.
Trump took offense, calling Johnson’s take “insulting” and asking how dare Johnson ghost on his speech.
“I’ve done more than any other president has done for the police,” said Trump, who attempted to belittle Johnson, saying to the applause of the crowd, he “should be here because maybe he could learn something,” according to the Washington Post.
Citing the city’s status as a sanctuary city and its struggles with deadly gun violence, Trump called Chicago “an embarrassment to the nation” and said war-torn “Afghanistan is a safe place by comparison.”
As the Tribune reports:
Calling Chicago the “worst sanctuary city in America” and citing the refusal of local law enforcement to detain people based on their citizen status for immigration officials, Trump said, “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.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot wasn’t having it. She backed up Johnson and called out Trump’s “ignorant buffoonery,” tweeting:
As for Johnson himself, he said Monday that he wasn’t going to get “caught up in negativity.” Instead, according to the Tribune, he
defended his department and the “Chicago turnaround” by saying double-digit percentage declines in homicides and in shootings through mid-October, as well as in each of the past two years, were significant factors in a nationwide drop in violent crime.
In any case, Johnson’s decision to absent himself from Trump’s appearance wasn’t the only adverse reaction to Trump’s visit. Trump was also greeted by thousands of protesters, who also felt his values to be unaligned with theirs.
As the Tribune reports, Trump’s trip
saw [him] leaving Washington, D.C., where he faces the potential of impeachment to travel to a city that he has repeatedly attacked on a national and world stage and a place where he is viewed as overwhelmingly unpopular.
While the police chiefs’ gathering and [a following] fundraising event offered friendly audiences for the president, across the Chicago River from Trump Tower, there was a decidedly less welcoming scene.
Chicago police estimated 3,000 to 6,000 protesters gathered along Wacker Drive to voice their opposition to the president. Holding signs that read, “Resist,” “Impeach the Perp!” and “Comrade Trump, go back to Russia,” the demonstrators eventually marched through the Loop before dispersing.