Politics

‘Too Many People with Criminal Records’ Cause Chicago’s Slaughter, Mayor Says

Critics see hypocrisy from Democrat Rahm Emanuel, who they say has failed to defend his police from brutality allegations

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel laid blame Monday for the bloody violence terrorizing his city on “people with criminal records” being set free to roam the streets.

Although many would call that common sense, it counters the general thrust toward sentencing reform and shorter prison terms that has picked up bipartisan support in recent years.

“There are too many guns on the street, too many people with criminal records on the street, and there is a shortage of values about what is right, what is wrong, what is acceptable, what is condoned and what is condemned,” an emotional Emanuel told reporters.

He was reacting to an exceptionally bloody weekend, in which 75 people reportedly suffered gunshots, with more than a dozen of them being killed, including a woman found Sunday in her bathtub, her hands and feet bound.

Even for a city that long ago became synonymous with organized crime and urban gang violence, it is a shocking toll.

Emanuel’s focus on people with criminal records — and not just guns, generally — is notable for a man who served as White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama, who granted an unprecedented number of clemencies to major drug traffickers and dealers who were serving long prison terms.

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Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, changed Department of Justice (DOJ) policy to instruct prosecutors not to seek sentencing enhancements in some cases. Current Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed that policy after taking office to ensure that federal prosecutors always sought maximum-length sentences.

Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said many on the Left have propagated a rhetorical assault on police.

“If Emanuel wants to take criminals off the streets, he should address his own Democratic Party, which has promoted a false narrative for years that the criminal justice system is racist,” she said.

Mac Donald, author of the forthcoming book “The Diversity Delusion,” said liberals often blame guns for crime instead of the people who use them.

“Ultimately, gun violence is a matter of personal responsibility,” she said.

Florian Sohnke, who has written speeches for local politicians and business leaders in Chicago, said Emanuel spoke Monday only because the death toll was too high to ignore.

“He doesn’t really take much of a stand on anything,” he said. “He shrugs off violent crime. He rarely ever addresses it.”

Sohnke said crime has overrun Chicago, in part, because Cook County prosecutor Kim Foxx has dropped charges against suspects who have alleged police brutality. He said Emanuel regularly fails to back up his own police.

“He routinely has used them as a foil,” he said.

Hans von Spakovsky, a legal expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said Emanuel’s comments suggest a realization that the status quo is not working in Chicago.

“He’s getting in Chicago the result of all of these misguided policies,” he said.

Emanuel pleaded with residents for information about the most recent shootings. Police have been frustrated by a lack of cooperation in some neighborhoods.

Related: 74 People Shot in Bloody Chicago Weekend

Von Spakovsky said that lack of cooperation undercuts the argument by Emanuel and others that “sanctuary” policies limiting coordination with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers will make vulnerable communities more comfortable reporting crimes and giving tips.

“It’s pretty hypocritical coming from Emanuel, who supports sanctuary policies,” he said.

At the news conference, Emanuel decried an erosion of values.

“You can talk about the weather, but the weather didn’t pull the trigger,” he said. “And you can talk about the jobs, and they count. But in parts of this city where there aren’t jobs, people didn’t pull the trigger.”

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