After blaming former President Donald Trump for Chicago's violence, and pleading for people to "acknowledge" a "surge of violence" in her city, Mayor Lori Lightfoot told Newsmax the data is trending down, calling a question about a crime surge "insulting" and the questioner a "failed political candidate."
"It is incredibly gratifying to have a partner in the White House who understands the appropriate and unique role that the federal government has to play in public safety at the local level; for four years we were ignored, over and over again," Lightfoot said about Chicago's crime surge during her Friday evening briefing, which came after meeting with the Chicago City Council that was spurred by Newsmax questioning one week ago. "I started raising these issues from the moment I became mayor. We needed more help from our federal partners."
Lightfoot, whose facts on Trump were false, praised President Joe Biden and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for assisting on "crime gun" seizures in the city, noting a dangerous July 4 weekend to come.
"This is a very challenging weekend, historically, going back decades," Lightfoot told reporters, suggesting the "six hours of questioning" in a City Council meeting was untimely and potentially taking away from crime fighting for the dangers of the weekend ahead.
"Every single day the men and women of our police department are under danger," she added. "We've seen an unprecedented level of people shooting at the police, last year and still this year.
"Yes, we've made progress this year. Not enough. No one can be satisfied until we see dramatic drops in homicides and in shootings.
A week after a heated exchange with Newsmax correspondent William Kelly, Lightfoot admitted to a "surge" of violence, just one answer before taking another round of questions from Kelly again this Friday.
"There's a flaw in the system," Lightfoot said of electronic monitoring programs failing to keep violent criminals off the streets. "We need to work together to fix it, but we've got to acknowledge that there's a problem, because it is – no question in my mind – driving some of the surge of violence that we've seen in the city."
But Kelly was next, and Lightfoot seemed to contradict her messaging on a "surge of violence" to suggest homicide and shooting "data" was trending in the other direction.
"What I said to you last week, what the superintendent said today over and over again, and what the data tells us, is this: When you look at homicides and shootings from April, May and June, we are trending downward," Lightfoot told Kelly. "Is anybody satisfied on where we are? No. But the data is the data, and it is absolutely trending down."
"Every major city in the United States, since 2020, is seeing a surge in violence – New York, L.A., Atlanta, D.C., across the board – but what we're seeing here in Chicago is a downward trend, both in homicides and in shootings," she added.
"Again, are we satisfied? Because what you're saying is, 'Hey, wait, there was a shooting someplace in our neighborhood.' Yeah, there are shootings, but what we are seeing in the data is a year over year, month over month decline and that is progress, yes sir."
Kelly noted Lightfoot's selective use of data comparing 2020 during George Floyd rioting to 2021 and the fact Lightfoot this week denounced criticism of her handling of Chicago's crime telling local news: "99.9 percent of the criticism" is because she is "a Black woman."
"Do you honestly believe that?" Kelly asked. "The City Council of Chicago is obviously made up of many Black women who criticize you.
"Do you really believe the criticism of you is 99.9% based on the fact you're a Black woman?"
Lightfoot initially deflected back to denying social unrest last June can be called "race riots."
"So, you said about 15 things, most of which were wrong; let's deconstruct some of that: We didn't have race riots last summer," she told Kelly, repeating a claim he asked "15 questions" in last week's heated exchange.
"No, you're wrong. Sir, you're wrong, and I know that you like to be controversial. You do."
Kelly interjected before Lightfoot resurfaced some points of contention.
"Sir, are you going to let me answer or are you just going to keep talking like you did the last time," she said. "We're allowing you in here."
"I know your political aspirations. I know your political aspirations haven't been fulfilled. You're a failed political candidate over and over again.
"But what you don't have the right to do is make up facts," Lightfoot continued, despite her misrepresentation of "fact" on Trump not helping Chicago for July 4, 2017 weekend. "We did not have race riots in our city last year. That's just wrong. And it's incendiary."
Lightfoot proceeded to attack Newsmax, suggesting criticism of her was incendiary.
"Now, I know that's what Newsmax likes to do, but I'm not going to let you take liberty with the facts, not in front of me," she continued. "You're not going to get away with that."
Kelly then asked: "So you're not going to answer my question?"
"I answered your question," Lightfoot said. "Your question, frankly, was insulting. You said race riots, you conflated the fact there were members of color on the City Council and somehow I don't have a right to say, as a Black woman, as a lesbian, I don't – my belief that some of the criticism is based solely on the basis on my gender and my race – that's my personal . . ."
But, she said, "99.9%" of the criticism, Kelly reminded her.
"That's my personal opinion, sir," she shot back. "You don't have a right to criticize my personal opinion. So, I think I've answered your question as best I can, and now we're moving on."
At the end of the press conference, Lightfoot did circle back to the wave of shootings and violence in her city, deflecting "accountability" from herself to others.
"I am concerned about shootings every single day," she said. "I go to bed thinking about it. I wake up in the morning thinking about it and making sure we're doing everything we can to keep our community safe.
"Fundamentally, here's the issue: There's too many guns and too little accountability. It's up to all of us, not one person."
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