On Thursday, during a speech to congressional Republicans at a GOP retreat in Philadelphia, President Donald Trump turned his attention to one of his favorite topics — fear-mongering about crime in American cities.
Trump began by noting that murder rates rose over the last year in the country’s 30 largest cities. That’s true, but there’s a significant caveat — year-to-year fluctuations aren’t nearly as meaningful as long-term trends, and FBI data indicates the nation’s homicide rate steadily declined for a two-decade period ending at the end of 2014:
After cherry-picking a stat that reinforces his grim view of American cities, Trump turned to Philadelphia specifically. “Here in Philadelphia, the murder rate has been steady — I mean just, terribly increasing,” Trump said.
That’s false. According to data from the Philadelphia Police Department, the murder rate in Philadelphia has actually steadily decreased over the last decade:
President Trump: Philadelphia killings "just terribly increasing."
They have actually declined significantly over the last decade pic.twitter.com/KtNZMstffE
— Mark Berman (@markberman) January 26, 2017
Trump then turned to Chicago — a city he threatened to “send the Feds!” into earlier this week to combat the “carnage” occurring there.
“What’s going on in Chicago?” Trump said. “I said the other day, what the hell is going on?”
In response to Trump’s question, somebody in the court yelled, “Democrats!”
The room burst out in laughter. Trump smirked and said, “There’s a lot of truth to that.” As of Tuesday, 37 people had been killed in the city in January alone.
Trump doesn’t have a real plan to address violence in American cities. Turning cities like Chicago into federal police states, as Trump suggested he might try to do earlier this week, is unconstitutional, as are the stop-and-frisk policing methods he endorsed during the campaign.
During an interview that aired Wednesday on ABC News, Trump offered little more than platitudes when discussing violence in Chicago.
“Maybe they’re not gonna have to be so politically correct. Maybe they’re being overly political correct,” Trump said. “Maybe there’s something going on. But you can’t have those killings going on in Chicago. Chicago is like a war zone.”
“They’re gonna have to get tougher and stronger and smarter,” he added.
In Cook County, Illinois — where Chicago is located — Hillary Clinton won 74 percent of the vote, compared to just 21 percent for Trump. On Wednesday, Trump outlined two ways in which he’ll try to retaliate against the urban communities that largely didn’t support him — cutting off funding for sanctuary cities and singling out populous blue states like New York and California for extra scrutiny during the witch hunt he’s promised into voter fraud.