- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Sunday defended her decision to collaborate with federal law enforcement agencies to address a spike in violent crime in Chicago.
- Shootings in Chicago have increased 75% year-over-year and murders are 78% higher in 2020 than they were in 2019, according to police statistics reported by NBC Chicago.
- Lightfoot stressed that her accepting help from federal agencies differed from their unwelcome presence in the city of Portland, where federal agents showed up without an invitation from local leaders to quash protests.
- The Chicago mayor also called on the president to address the presence of illegal guns in the city, advocating for stricter federal gun laws.
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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Sunday that she welcomes federal help in combatting a rise of violent crime in her city but said she wouldn’t allow federal agents to enter Chicago without her knowledge like they’ve done in Portland, Oregon.
“Well, I have said it before and I will say it again, no troops, no agents that are coming in outside of our knowledge, notification, and control that are violating people’s constitutional rights. That’s the framework,” Lightfoot told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday during an appearance on “State of the Union.”
She added: “We can’t just allow anyone to come into Chicago, play police in our streets, in our neighborhoods, when they don’t know the first thing about our city. That’s a recipe for disaster. And that’s what you’re seeing playing out in Portland on a nightly basis.”
In Portland, the Trump administration has clashed with local leaders over its decision to send in federal agents in order to quash ongoing protests that have sometimes turned destructive. Federal agents dressed in military fatigues reportedly have driven around the city in unmarked vans and arrested demonstrators. They have also been seen using tear gas and other riot-control measures on the Portland demonstrators.
As Business Insider’s John Haltiwanger wrote, “the Pentagon, members of Congress, local leaders, former US military officials, historians, and legal experts have all expressed serious concern about the military uniforms and tactics of the federal agents in Portland.”
Protests against police brutality began in May following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have continued nationwide. About 1,000 protesters showed up outside the Chicago mayor’s home on Thursday to call for her to take action in defunding the local police department, WGN reported.
“The opportunity presented itself, under the management of the US attorney here,” Lightfoot said of the offer to collaborate with federal agencies. “And I stress that because that’s unlike what we saw in Portland, where the Trump administration parachuted in these additional federal agents, without consulting anybody locally and ignoring the local U.S. attorney, very different circumstance here in Chicago.”
Crime is down in Chicago overall, but violent crime like shootings and homicides has increased this year
Her comments come amid a recent spike in violent crime in Chicago. According to police statistics reported by NBC Chicago, while the overall crime in the city has actually decreased compared to last year, the rate of violent crime, including murders and shootings, has spiked.
Shootings in Chicago increased by 75% in the month of June 2020 compared to June 2019. Murders in the city rose by a higher percentage — 78% — in June 2020 compared to the same month the year prior, according to the report.
“Let me be clear,” she said “This is not about working with the Trump administration. For decades now, in major cities across the country, FBI, DEA, ATF, those agents have been in our districts, and do work, and work in concert with local law enforcement to help support a number of efforts, not the least of which is violence in our cities.”
Lightfoot pointed toward the presence of illegal guns in the city as one of the reasons behind the increase in violent crime.
“We are being inundated with guns from states that have virtually no gun control, no background checks, no ban on assault weapons,” she said. “That is hurting cities like Chicago. That is the thing that, if the president really wanted to help, that and the other things I identified in my letter, he could do today, tomorrow.
“But he’s not really interested in helping in that way,” she added.