Editorial: As Chicago’s children die, Lightfoot and Trump spar rather than collaborate - Chicago Tribune
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Editorial: As Chicago’s children die, Lightfoot and Trump spar rather than collaborate

Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks alongside Gov. J.B. Pritzker at the Thompson Center on May 31, 2020.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks alongside Gov. J.B. Pritzker at the Thompson Center on May 31, 2020. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

President Donald Trump sent a letter and a poke in the eye on Friday to Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot concerning the weeks of horrendous gun violence that have devastated Chicago. Trump’s intent was political gamesmanship. But if that’s all Pritzker and Lightfoot absorbed from the insults, then they are missing an opportunity to make Chicago safer because the president offered support. He said he’s willing to ask members of his administration to help the pair devise plans to combat the violence.

When the federal government offers assistance to overwhelmed local officials, the first reaction should include some sort of “We thank you” or at least “We’ll get back to you,” not just snark. Lightfoot, though, couldn’t wait for the weekend’s toll of killed and wounded before counterattacking. “I don’t need leadership lessons from Donald Trump,” she replied. “He’s using the victims of gun violence in our city to score cheap political points, spew racist rhetoric and ignore the impact of COVID across this country.”

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Again, that was all on Friday night. Then came Saturday, and more bloodshed. Around 2 p.m., a mother was in a vehicle with her 20-month-old son on Halsted Street near 60th Street in Englewood when someone in another car pulled alongside and fired seven or eight times, according to police and Tribune reporting. The baby boy, Sincere Gaston, was shot in the chest. He died. His mom was grazed in the head.

Saturday evening in Logan Square, a 10-year-old girl was hit in the head by a stray bullet that flew through a second-floor apartment window. She died. Two groups of men may have been shooting at each other, possibly including someone firing from a vehicle, police told the Tribune. Another random bullet hit another child less than two hours later. It came through the window of a ag8亚集团官方网站home in the 6600 block of South Wood Street, grazing an 8-year-old girl’s head. As of Sunday morning, there were reports of at least 10 dead, dozens wounded in the city.

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Why the exceptional burst of bloodshed in Chicago this summer? He wrote: “If you are willing to put partisanship aside, we can revitalize distressed neighborhoods in Chicago, together. But to succeed, you must establish law and order. The combination of crime, high State and local taxes, and onerous State and local government regulations have caused thousands of Illinoisans to flee to other States. Between 2010 and 2019, Illinois lost more of its population than any other state in the Nation. If you are interested, I am willing to ask members of my Cabinet to meet with you and help devise a plan to make Chicago safe, since a successful formula has escaped both you and your predecessors. My Administration would also welcome the opportunity to engage with you and your colleagues as you develop bipartisan policy recommendations to improve policing and make our great cities safer for all.”

If you’re an elected Democrat in Illinois, you could read the above and see only the digs at your party and attempts by Trump to push his law-and-order campaign. Or you could filter out the noise and think about your terrified constituents. Trump is offering more federal support to improve policing and make cities safer.

Pritzker and Lightfoot should call him on it. Schedule a meeting with Justice Department officials. Draw up a wish list. Federal dollars and law enforcement assistance are valuable. Maybe it means more manpower, more imaginative approaches, more technology. There are existing, effective social service programs in Chicago, ranging from gang conflict mediation to teen mentoring, that would benefit from a targeted infusion of federal dollars.

Trump’s letter takes a cynical turn or two, but he’s right about Chicago’s horrendous summer. Violence is spinning out of control. If the president wants to make a public show of offering “to put partisanship aside” to help distressed neighborhoods, then Pritzker and Lightfoot should pursue the offer.

As children die, Democratic politicians should hear more than Trump’s insults. They should hear the fusillade of bullets, and the anguished cries of Chicagoans who want help.

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