President Donald Trump delivered a fascistic speech Monday to an audience of police officials assembled in Chicago for the annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Trump spoke as teachers and school workers continued to picket on the eighth school day of their strike against the destruction of public education and mass poverty in the country’s third largest city.
As Trump spoke at the McCormick Place convention center, Chicago police prevented hundreds of demonstrators from rallying several miles away in front of the Trump International Hotel and Tower, where a campaign fundraiser was scheduled for later in the afternoon.
The president made no mention of the teachers or education. Instead, he doubled down on his efforts to rally support within the police and military for a dictatorial regime and the use of state violence against immigrants and the working class as a whole.
To applause from the assembled police chiefs, Trump attacked the authorities in Chicago, including the superintendent of police, for supposedly tolerating crime and, in keeping with the city’s designation as a “sanctuary city,” limiting collaboration between Chicago police and federal immigration agents.
At one point Trump suggested that police departments should use deadly force to wipe out crime, hinting at methods similar to those used by the fascistic president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte. He approvingly recalled a conversation with a Chicago cop several years before concerning the high rate of petty crime and shootings in the city.
Trump related that the officer complained of a lack of leadership from the mayor and top police officials and said that he could “fix this killing problem in Chicago” in one day. “These cops know all the bad guys, they know exactly what to do,” Trump quoted the officer as saying. Trump added, “I left very impressed … There was no doubt he could have done it.”
Trump began his speech by touting the extra-legal state killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi over the weekend, boasting that al-Baghdadi was now “dead as a doornail.” He was shameless in proclaiming the neo-colonialist aims of the U.S. wars in the region, hailing the movement of U.S. troops to secure Syria’s oil fields and saying, “We’re keeping the oil.”
He then pivoted to a lengthy denunciation of Chicago police chief Eddie Johnson, who boycotted Trump’s speech. Trump called Chicago “the worst sanctuary city in America” and added that “people like Johnson put criminals and illegal aliens before the citizens of Chicago.”
Johnson, in fact, presides over a police department that is notorious for brutalizing and killing workers and working class youth, most recently in the cop killing of 17-year-old Curtis Stagger last May. Earlier this month, former police officer Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014. The previous Democratic mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, concealed video footage documenting the murder for months. His point person in managing the fallout from the cover-up, corporate lawyer Lori Lightfoot, has succeeded him as mayor.
Trump’s address featured all of the fascistic themes he has incorporated into his campaign speeches in advance of the 2020 presidential election: attacks on the media, denunciations of “activist judges” who strike down his unconstitutional executive orders, the branding of undocumented immigrants as criminals and rapists, boasts about building the border wall, praise for the gun lobby, and attacks on “far-left activists” and “radical politicians.”
He declared, “We face an onslaught from far-left activists who want to erase America’s borders and nullify our federal laws. This includes activist judges.” He went on to denounce “radical politicians and prosecutors who refuse to enforce the law” and promote “open borders and sanctuary cities.”
Boasting that “there is nobody in the position of president who has ever done more for our police,” Trump denounced the prosecution or even criticism of police. He won cheers from the audience when he said he had “curtailed meddlesome consent decrees” imposed by the federal government on police departments with particularly egregious records of racism and violence, one of which is Chicago’s.
He called for the death penalty for those convicted of killing police officers, and announced that he had made $600 million in surplus military equipment available to local police departments.
Trump paraded a number of police onto the stage and invited the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Mark Morgan, to speak, as well as the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Matthew Albence. He concluded by announcing the signing of an executive order establishing a new Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice.