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Trump On Chicago Violence: 'What The Hell Is Going On?'

By Heather Cherone | January 26, 2017 2:35pm
 President Donald Trump on Thursday criticized Chicago for the third time in two days.
President Donald Trump on Thursday criticized Chicago for the third time in two days.
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Flikr/Gage Skidmore

CHICAGO — President Donald Trump used a speech to Republicans in Philadelphia to once again blast violence in Chicago, asking "What the hell is going on?"

In response to Trump's question, someone from the audience yelled "Democrats!"

That prompted laughter to roll through the room, and Trump pointed at the speaker, leaned away from the microphone, and replied, "There's a lot of truth to that."

"That is why we will continue to stand with the incredible men and women of law enforcement," Trump said, returning to his prepared remarks displayed on a Teleprompter.

It is unacceptable that the murder rate rose 14 percent in America's largest cities from 2015 to 2016, Trump said.

"Right now there are too many families that don't feel secure," Trump said.

Trump also singled out Philadelphia — the host of Thursday's Republican Party retreat — for criticism as well, saying its murder rate had increased "terribly."

However, while the number of people killed in Philadelphia rose during the last three years, it is still at a historically low level, data shows.

In his speech, Trump reiterated his pledge to yank federal money from "sanctuary cities" that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation, which could cost Chicago millions of dollars.

"At long last, cracking down on sanctuary cities," Trump said to loud cheers and applause from the crowd of Republicans.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel — a Democrat, as are all but one member of the City Council — has vowed that Chicago will continue to protect immigrants despite Trump's threats.

Trump threatened Tuesday night in a tweet to "send in the Feds" unless Chicago officials "fix the horrible 'carnage'" in the city.

In his first television interview from the White House, Trump likened violence in Chicago to violence in Afghanistan.

RELATED: Is Chicago More Dangerous Than A 'War Zone?' Not Even Close

"People are being shot left and right," Trump said, criticizing Chicago leaders for not "doing the job" and offering to help, without being specific. "Chicago is like a war zone."

Trump said it may be that Chicago police officers are "being overly politically correct."

However, an investigation by the Justice Department released Jan. 13 concluded the Chicago Police Department routinely used excessive force against minorities and tolerated "racially discriminatory conduct."

"I want them to fix the problem," Trump said. "They have a problem that is very easily fixable. They are going to have to get tougher and stronger and smarter."

After surging in 2016, violence in Chicago has shown no sign of slowing down in the first weeks of 2017, with 40 people killed in the first 22 days of January.

Despite Trump's focus on Chicago, more than a dozen American cities have a higher per-capita murder rate.