Donald Trump slates Chicago for violent crime but ignores woes closer to home

The President seems more keen to rail against the birthplace of Hillary Clinton and the hometown of Barack Obama

Rachael Revesz
New York
@RachaelRevesz
Saturday 18 February 2017 19:44
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Mr Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate is located in the affluent Palm Beach neighbourhood
Mr Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate is located in the affluent Palm Beach neighbourhood

Donald Trump often rails against violence in Chicago, but has stubbornly ignored crime in cities much closer to his Florida Mar-a-Lago estate.

At his first solo press conference since he took office, the President mentioned Chicago multiple times, describing it as "living in hell", to justify investing more authority in the police and raising minimum prison sentences.

"There’s one Chicago that’s incredible, luxurious and all — and safe. There’s another Chicago that’s worse than almost any of the places in the Middle East that we talk, and that you talk about, every night on the newscasts," he said.

"So, we’re going to do a lot of work on the inner cities."

Much closer to his gated "winter White House" in Florida is West Palm Beach, which had a violent crime rate in 2015 of 23 homicides in a city of close to 105,000 residents. The rate of violent crime, such as rapes and aggravated assaults, was nine for every 1,000 residents - the same rate as Chicago, a much larger city.

Mr Trump has not mentioned crime in Florida, and has instead railed against the birthplace of Hillary Clinton and the hometown of Barack Obama.

The President has been criticised for not being informed on how to tackle problems in inner cities, and for trying to appeal to voters of colour by asking them: "What the hell do you have to lose?"

When asked at the press conference this week if he would meet the Congressional Black Caucus, he asked the black reporter, April Ryan, if the CBC was "friends" of hers.

How do the town where 93 per cent voted for Trump think he's doing after one month?

In West Palm Beach, the number of homicides dropped from 23 in 2015 to 10 the next year, although the total number of violent crimes rose from 924 in 2015 to 955 last year.

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Mayoral spokeswoman Kathleen Walter told NBC that West Palm Beach has its problems, including a heroin epidemic, but so do a lot of cities.

"Are we getting some attention because we have a famous neighbour? For sure," she said. "But this has always been an alluring community and I think there are a lot of residents here who are happy."

The President’s Florida estate is in Palm Beach, an affluent area with a very low crime rate.

FBI records show in the first six months of 2016 there were no murders, rapes or robberies and just one aggravated assault.

Mr Trump has repeatedly and incorrectly stated that there has been a rise in violent crime over the long term, rather than highlighting a small spike in the last few years.

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The President has used incorrect data to justify his mission to give the police more authority, crack down on immigrants and refugees and implement harsher anti-drug laws which disproportionately target lower income families and people of colour.

Violent crime has actually significantly decreased over the last few decades.

New attorney general Jeff Sessions has also falsely stated that rising crime needs to be clamped down upon.

"We have a crime problem. I wish the rise that we are seeing and crime in America today were some sort of aberration or a blip," Mr Sessions said as he was sworn into office.

"My best judgement having been involved in criminal law enforcement for many years is that this is a dangerous, permanent trend that places the health and safety of the American people at risk."

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