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Rahm To Trump: Smarts, Not Strength Needed To Stop Chicago Violence

 Rahm Emanuel and Donald Trump
Rahm Emanuel and Donald Trump
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CITY HALL — Mayor Rahm Emanuel Wednesday fired back at President Donald Trump who once again turned the national spotlight on violence in Chicago by asking, "What the hell is going on in Chicago?"

"This month in Chicago, there have been more than two homicide victims per day," Trump said at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio. "Better tell that mayor to get tough because it’s not working what they're doing."

Since July 1, there have been 58 people killed and another 293 people wounded on shootings, according to data provided to DNAinfo by the Chicago Police Department.

Nearly a month ago, Trump announced that Chicago violence had reached "epidemic proportions" in a tweet.

Speaking after Wednesday's City Council meeting, Emanuel said fighting violence was "not about being tough but being smart and strategic."

Emanuel said he is working to create jobs, expand after school programs and curtail access to guns as part of a comprehensive strategy that includes an increasing reliance on high-tech crime fighting tools, like the Shotspotter program that uses high-powered microphones to detect gunshots.

In the Englewood (7th) and Harrison (11th) police districts, where the technology was first rolled out, there has been a 37 percent and 27 percent reduction in shootings, Chicago officials said.

But violence in the city has remained higher throughout 2017 than it was in years past, and there have been about as many people killed in shootings this year as in 2016.

Trump has repeatedly criticized violence in Chicago, asking at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on June 21: "Look at Chicago. What the hell is going on in Chicago? What's that all about?" Trump said.

Trump's question — which he has asked in some form nearly a dozen times since taking office — prompted many to post sarcastic responses on Twitter, noting that summer is in full swing in Chicago.

In response to Trump's taunts and tweets, Emanuel repeatedly asked for more federal agents to combat crime in violence-plagued neighborhoods, after-school help for Chicago's kids and renovating mass transit that runs through the South and West sides.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has repeatedly criticized Chicago for declaring itself a "sanctuary city," saying those policies tie the hands of law enforcement by "undermining federal laws that would remove criminal, illegal aliens from the streets and remove them from this country."

On Wednesday, Sessions announced that only cities that cooperate with federal immigration agents would be eligible to the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which is the leading source of federal funding for state and local law enforcement agencies.

Cities that get the grant would have to "allow federal immigration access to detention facilities, and provide 48 hours notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities," Sessions said in a statement.

In 2016, Chicago got $2.3 million through the grant, which was expanded by the Obama Administration to allow cities to purchase body cameras after a series of fatal encounters between police officers and unarmed civilians. The city got about the same amount from the grant in 2015, city records show.

City officials had expected to get $3.2 million in 2017 from the grant named for New York Police Officer Edward Byrne, who was slain on duty in 1988, said Molly Poppe, a spokeswoman for Emanuel.

Emanuel said Wednesday that Chicago would remain a "sanctuary city" and prohibit city officials from helping immigration agents.

"We will not be intimidated away from our values," Emanuel said, adding that city lawyers are confident that the Trump administration can not legally block the grant funds based on Chicago's immigration policies.

Earlier this month, the Illinois Chapter of American Civil Liberties Union urged Emanuel and the City Council to do more to protect undocumented immigrants in Chicago, adding its name to demands made by representatives of several groups made up of black and Latino Chicagoans shortly after Trump's inauguration.