On Jan. 24, 2017, President Donald Trump announced on his Twitter account that if the city of Chicago does not lower their murder rate, he will send in federal reinforcements, a truly eerie notion.
If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible "carnage" going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
This tweet was a followup to a tweet that Trump had posted previously in the month.
Chicago murder rate is record setting – 4,331 shooting victims with 762 murders in 2016. If Mayor can't do it he must ask for Federal help!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2017
Trump’s concerns echo a theme that is all too familiar for Chicagoans. The homocide rate is the highest of any major city in America, and it continues to rise. Although St. Louis’ murder rate actually has overtaken Chicago’s, this trend has deemed Chicago as the “murder capital of America.” Chicago is in the spotlight, and the concerns Trump raises resonate throughout the nation.
Still, there are a number of troubling things about Trump’s statements. Primarily, the idea that the solution to Chicago’s murder rate is to send in federal armed forces oversimplifies a complex issue and highlights Trump’s misunderstanding of the current state in Chicago .
Yes, Trump could send armed forces to Chicago, and it could realistically help lower crime rates around the city. However, this solution is a poor attempt at solving the issue at hand. Instead of trying to prevent all crime around the city, Trump could instead attempt to curb the activity at its source: poverty.
“I really think that sending in federal troops is the wrong move if Trump wants to help Chicago. It’s hard to fight crime without fighting the poverty in neighborhoods that cause it,” Maika Larracas, senior, said.
The poverty that plagues the city is a direct cause of Chicago’s crime. Chicago Public Schools suffer because of this, and a vicious cycle is formed. Instead of combating the crime, Trump could use federal funds to provide relief to not only Chicago, but the plethora of cities that suffer from poverty, including Flint, Detroit, St. Louis, and a number of other places around the country.
There are concrete ways this can be done. The United States currently spends $621 billion on education each year. Comparatively, the United States spends $597 billion on its military each year, although the United States military totally eclipses almost every other developed country. Additionally, the $597 billion does not take all defense spending into account; the military budget, with those factors, overtakes the education budget. America’s inflated military budget is just one of the problems of money simply going to the wrong places. There are tangible ways to help the citizens of this country, and building 19 aircraft carriers is not that way. To make matters even worse, education funds are being defunded over time by both Republican and Democrat administrations.
“Literacy, technology, and scholarships are all being slashed this year. The number of Pell grants low income students can receive has been reduced from two to one, and essential AmeriCorps programs like Teach For America, the National Writing Project, and City Year have been defunded,” Liz Dwyer, reporter for Good, said.
Trump wishes to impose a much scarier resolution through federal forces. As seen in history, there is a very delicate line when funneling federal forces for the purpose of controlling the public. Yes, Trump’s sole intentions may be to dispel crime, but that does not guarantee that this would not later infringe on the rights of Americans. Once the foot is in the door, it is up to Trump’s discretion as to what comes next.
Featured image by The Chicago Tribune