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Chicago violence continues as Trump announces ‘surge’ of federal help

In this Sept. 20, 2013 file photo, Chicago police detectives investigate the scene where a number of people, including a 3-year-old child, were shot in a city park in Chicago.

(The Center Square) – A mass shooting in the Gresham neighborhood Tuesday afternoon sent 15 people to the hospital, a day before President Donald Trump announced he’s sending a “surge” of federal agents to Chicago.

The shooter approached a car, opening fire on a funeral procession, First Deputy Superintendent Eric Carter said.

He said the vehicle’s occupants fled after firing dozens of rounds into the procession gathered on a sidewalk. Between the shooters and funeral attendees, who fired back, Carter said police had recovered 60 shell casings.

Trump announced Wednesday he would be sending federal agents to trouble locations across the nation, but singled out Chicago specifically.

“Perhaps no citizens have suffered more from the menace of violent crime than the wonderful people of Chicago, a city I know very well,” Trump said. “The citizens of Chicago are citizens of America.”

Officials were quick to differentiate the influx of agents from the federal response in Portland, Oregon. The newly-dispatched agents, Attorney General William Barr said, would be conducting traditional police work.

Earlier Wednesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said it was “another day where we start with despair.”

“Another day that we start with reporting on violence in a neighborhood that has struck and felled too many people,” she said.

As of mid-July, the city has reported 385 murders, a 48 percent increase from the same period in 2019, the Chicago Tribune reported.

On Monday, Trump spoke about the rise in gun violence in Chicago and elsewhere.

“Well, I’m going to do something – that, I can tell you,” he said. “We’re not going to let New York and Chicago and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore and all of these – Oakland is a mess. We’re not going to let this happen in our country. All run by liberal Democrats.”

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, called the shooting a tragic reminder that children and law-abiding citizens are being victimized by domestic terrorists known as Chicago’s street gangs.

“Our state and city leaders need to accept all assistance, including from the federal government, to end this pandemic of violence before the City of Chicago becomes a full-blown war zone,” he said.

Both Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Lightfoot had opposed Trump’s plan to send federal agents to Chicago, concerned after what happened in Portland.

Pritzker on Wednesday made the distinction between federal assistance to help bring criminals to justice and masked, unmarked agents arresting people.

“I welcome legitimate resources from the federal government to reduce violence and help our residents stay safe,” he said. “What I will not stand for are efforts that undermine civil rights and civil liberties like what’s happening in Portland, conducted anonymously under the cover of darkness and with no transparency.”

Later Wednesday, Lightfoot spoke with Trump directly. Her office issued a statement that made it clear the city is willing to go to court if needed.

“The President reached out to Mayor Lightfoot this evening to confirm that he plans to send federal resources to Chicago to supplement ongoing federal investigations pertaining to violent crime,” the statement said. “The conversation was brief and straightforward. Mayor Lightfoot maintains that all resources will be investigatory in nature and be coordinated through the U.S. Attorney’s office. The Mayor has made clear that if there is any deviation from what has been announced, we will pursue all available legal options to protect Chicagoans.”

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