Donald Trump threatens to impose martial law in Chicago, and it may be over a feud with Rahm Emanuel

President Trump's feud with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel could have big, big consequences

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published January 25, 2017 12:45PM (EST)

 (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Donald Trump is threatening Chicago and its mayor, Rahm Emanuel, with martial law, something which could have profound implications for the Windy City.

On Tuesday morning, Trump sent out the following tweet, threatening to "send in the feds" in response to Chicago's violence

Trump's tweet coincided with a segment on the Fox News show "The O'Reilly Factor." A few minutes after 8 p.m., the program discussed Chicago violence and cited statistics similar to those that Trump had used — namely that there had been "228 shootings in 2017 (up 5.5 percent from last year)" and "42 homicides in 2017 (up 24 percent from last year)." One of the show's guests, Horace Cooper, even used the term "carnage" to describe the situation.

The president also used the term carnage to describe inner city violence during his inaugural address. After denouncing "the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential," Trump proclaimed that "this American carnage stops right here and stops right now."

Earlier Monday, Emanuel criticized Trump for failing to focus on the important priorities of his new job.

"You didn’t get elected to debate the crowd size at your inaugural," Emanuel said. "You got elected to make sure that people have a job, that the economy continues to grow, people have security as it relates to their kids’ education. It wasn’t about your crowd size. It was about their lives and their jobs."

On that same day, it came out that there had been 40 murders in the city within the first 22 days of 2017.

Despite Trump's apocalyptic depiction of Chicago's crime rate, the metropolis is actually nowhere near the top of America's most dangerous big cities. Its per capita homicide rate in 2015 was 18th at 16.4 out of 100,000 residents, with the ignominious top spots belonging to New Orleans (46.9 out of 100,000 residents), Detroit (45.0 out of 100,000 residents), and St. Louis (43.8 out of 100,000 residents). It was slightly higher among non-fatal shootings in 2015, ranking 12th with 88.9 out of 100,000. This, however, was still eclipsed by St. Louis (659.7 out of 100,000 residents), Memphis (247.1 out of 100,000 residents), and Oakland (232.4 out of 100,000 residents).

Coincidentally, one of the last major acts of the Obama Justice Department was to release a report criticizing the Chicago Police Department for rampant racial profiling and abuse of power. It seems that Trump is determined to approach the problems in that city from the perspective that there isn't enough law and order rather than that law and order has run amok.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Chicago Donald Trump Martial Law Police Rahm Emanuel