CHICAGO — Richard Fowler, the Evanston native who was called out by Chicagoan Gianno Caldwell on Fox News for saying he's from Chicago, said he had a right to make the claim.
Fowler, a radio show host who is a regular guest on Fox News, appeared on the cable news channel after President Donald Trump's tweet last month saying he would "send in the Feds" if violent crime rates don't improve.
After Fowler brought up that he "was from Chicago," Caldwell shot him down, saying: "Bruh! You're from Evanston."
Fowler said he mentioned being "from Chicago" because he thought Trump's stance wasn't well thought out.
"I totally understand why the Chicago media is making such a big deal about this. It's a long-standing argument between suburbia and Chicago," Fowler said in a phone interview Thursday. "The reason I used the reference is you need to know Chicago and talk to Chicagoans to come up with a real solution."
"The larger point here is: I don't care where you are from. Putting federal troops in the streets of Chicago, it's not the right thing to do," he added.
The video of Fowler and Caldwell went viral this week, touching off debates on social media over who can and can't say they are from Chicago.
I feel like the Evanston dude and the Bruh dude could maybe have a Beer Summit in Rogers Park? #thehealing— Seth Bockley (@sboke) February 2, 2017
"youre from evanston bruh"-ancient chicago proverb— jugs bunny (@alliewach) February 2, 2017
Fowler, who was born and raised in Evanston, says he knows Chicago "very well."
The liberal activist says he spends one or two days a week in Chicago working with educators in the city and that his godmother lives in Chatham.
"I know Chicago very well. I think you can have this conversation on whether you were born in city limits or outside of it," Fowler said.
Fowler said he was also conscious of saying he was from Chicago while appearing on national television. He said he wouldn't do the same if he were talking to someone from Chicago, and he didn't dismiss the right of people from places like Oak Park, Evanston and Orland Park to say that they are from the big city.
"There's people who live near Washington, D.C., who live in Maryland who say they live in Washington," Fowler said. "It's a bigger frame of reference."
He does draw the line somewhere, however:
People from Moline, which is on the border with Iowa, cannot claim to be from Chicago, he said.