Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson created a stir over his refusal to attend President Trump’s speech to the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s annual convention. Johnson said it didn’t “line up with” the city’s core values, or his own, either.
“With some of our communities under seige, it just doesn’t line up with our city’s core values, along with my personal values,” Johnson said.
At a news conference on Saturday, Johnson added, “we need immigrant communities to trust our police department.”
“We do not need them to fear us then to flee us,” he said. “Oftentimes they won’t report crimes, because they fear they may be revictimized. So, I think just personally for me, I just have to take that into account… and represent the way I think I should.”
Protests were organized prior to Trump’s arrival on Monday.
Several groups were also planning to meet near Trump Tower, including the Lincoln United Methodist Church and the Right to Family Campaign, who jointly hosted a candlelight vigil near the downtown hotel on Sunday evening.
In preparation for these events, the Chicago Police Department says it placed safety barriers along the Chicago River as part of a wide-ranging “rolling security plan.” Various security and safety measures were implemented by the department, and residents were told to expect significant traffic impacts, rolling street closures, and the potential for large crowd gatherings throughout the president’s visit.
Imagine that. The top cop in America’s third-largest city was unwilling to extend the basic courtesy of attending a speech delivered by the president. It sounds as though he is more concerned about the feelings of illegal immigrants than American citizens and Chicagoans. To be honest, that’s common in the Age of Trump. The upper management of police departments in lots of large cities, including my own, often defy federal law in order to make a political statement against President Trump. Many cities place a priority on being sanctuary cities and calling for ICE to stay away.
Maybe Superintendent Johnson just doesn’t “like” President Trump. Chicago is a largely Democrat city. Perhaps Johnson is simply putting politics above all else. Chicago has a lot of problems, especially its murder rate, though, so I would think was a good opportunity to have a chat with the president and present some concerns. Johnson’s ego may have been hurt when President Trump said Chicago is a poster city for violence. The truth hurts.
The Chicago-Sun Times editorial board published a screed heavy on sarcasm and light on common sense. The piece conflates illegal immigration with legal immigration among other standard criticisms of the Trump administration. We get it. The brutally honest Orange Man is bad. How dare he says what most Americans are thinking about Chicago.
Trump is at war with everything that’s best about our city and country — values like honesty, integrity, decency, compassion and a fair shake
Johnson is vocal in his opinion that Trump is racist. The man he accuses of casting “racial insults and hatred” from the Oval Office is the same man that signed into law major criminal justice reform legislation which many in his city will benefit from but never mind those pesky facts.
“As police officers, our job is to be the voice for the voiceless and ambassadors to the communities that we serve,” Johnson said in response to the vote. “I can’t in good conscience stand by while racial insults and hatred are cast from the oval office or Chicago is held hostage because of our views on new Americans.”
Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham said the superintendent’s decision to boycott the speech prompted a vote of “no confidence” from FOP union members.
“He is the president of the United States. And, the reality of this is there are plenty of times I’ve sat listening to speeches that I didn’t care for, and I certainly didn’t walk out on them,” he said.
Graham noted that the city of Chicago has “derived a great deal of support” from the president, particularly with ATF agents and federal prosecutors that “prosecute our gun laws because our local prosecutor hasn’t done the job.”
“And, it’s driven down the crime. Last month we took a thousand guns off the street. Last month alone,” said Graham.
Last week, an editorial in the Chicago Tribune called for an internal investigation into an incident involving Johnson.
Not long after midnight last Thursday, officers responding to a 911 call found Johnson asleep behind the wheel of his parked car at a Bridgeport intersection. A department spokesman said that officers “did not observe any signs of impairment” and let him drive himself to his nearby home.
On Thursday evening, Johnson explained that he had felt exhausted during the day and, as he was driving, felt he was about to pass out from high blood pressure, for which he had stopped taking medication. So he pulled over and dozed off.
On Friday, though, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Johnson told her he had “a couple of drinks with dinner” before getting behind the wheel. But because the officers didn’t administer a field sobriety test, as would be expected in such a case, it’s not clear whether he was impaired. The mayor shrugged off his decision to imbibe before driving, saying, “He’s a grown man.”
The Tribune points out that Johnson referred the matter to the bureau of internal affairs but that’s not good enough. The Chicago Police Department doesn’t have a good track record on policing its own. You would think, given the recent headlines like this, that Johnson would be looking to keep a lower profile, not to heap more public scrutiny upon himself.
I’ll end with this – President Trump also did some fundraising while he was in the Windy City. A fundraiser was hosted by Todd Ricketts, Chicago Cubs co-owner and RNC Finance chairman. With a fundraiser and a speech on Trump’s schedule in Chicago, it seems like a missed opportunity for city leaders to come together and ask for their own meeting with Trump. There is a strong possibility Trump would relish a chance to be seen as a problem-solver and reaching out to those who politically oppose him would be good for both sides. The Rev. Michael L. Pfleger, a pastor at St. Sabina Church and far-left social justice warrior (and friend of Obama’s pal Rev. Wright) wrote to Trump recently, he claims, to come and meet with city leaders.
“Mr. Trump has continually tweeted and spoken in sound bites about Chicago,” Pfleger said. “Since he is coming, take time to listen and learn, to see how he can help. If he is only coming to pick up money, he should stay home.”
The losers in all of this? The people of Chicago.