President Donald Trump traveled to Chicago Monday for the first time since taking office, ripping into the city's violence, the police superintendent and more in a speech to a law enforcement conference.
Air Force One touched down at O'Hare International Airport at around 9:30 a.m. CST. He was met on the tarmac by Kevin Graham, the president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police.
Trump began his day by addressing the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference, held from Saturday through Tuesday at McCormick Place.
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His speech touched on his support for law enforcement, national crime statistics and a drop in the murder rate and violent crime - but he began with an attack on Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, who was not in attendance.
Johnson previously said he would not attend the speech because he thought the "values of the people of Chicago are more important" than what Trump would say.
"I can't in good conscience stand by while racial insults and hatred are cast from the Oval Office or Chicago is held hostage because of our views on new Americans," Johnson said.
"More than anyone else, this person should be here because maybe he could learn something," Trump said. "That's a very insulting statement after all I've done for the police and I've done more than any other president for the police."
"He's not doing his job," Trump continued. "Last year, 565 people were murdererd in Chicago. Since Eddie Johnson has been police chief, more than 1,500 people have been murdered in Chicago and 13,067 people have been shot."
Trump also attacked actor Jussie Smollett, accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself in Chicago earlier this year. Trump claimed Afghanistan was safer than Chicago and repeated a story he told in 2016 about an unnamed Chicago police officer claiming he could solve the city's violence in one day if he was allowed to.
After his speech, Trump signed an executive order at the conference that a White House spokesman said would "address the root causes of crime and better train, recruit and retain law enforcement officers."
The president's visit was stirring up a tempest even before his arrival in the city, which he's repeatedly derided as the poster child of urban violence and Democratic politics.
Trump has frequently slammed Chicago for its gun problems, describing the shootings as "horrible carnage," calling the city a "total disaster" and comparing it to Afghanistan.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has criticized Trump in the past for proposing a rule that would allow federal contractors to make employment decisions based on religious convictions, and she’s pushed back against tweets from the president’s daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump about the city’s gun violence.
At last year's gathering, held in Florida, Trump made headlines for his calling on law enforcement in Chicago to employ the practice of stop-and-frisk to "help straighten out the terrible shooting wave."
Trump’s visit to Chicago marks his first time in the city since September 2016, when he attended a campaign event at the Polish National Alliance in the Edgebrook neighborhood, followed by a fundraiser in suburban Bolingbrook.
He was also in Chicago in March 2016, when protests canceled a scheduled rally at the then-UIC Pavilion at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Campaign organizers told those planning to attend the rally for then-candidate Trump that after consulting with law enforcement, the decision was made to postpone the event.
Also on Trump's schedule for his visit Monday is a fundraiser at the Chicago Trump International Hotel and Tower, where roughly 3,000 people had gathered to protest Trump by 12 p.m. CST.
Several groups had previously announced plans to protest the visit in the Loop on Monday. Indivisible Chicago scheduled a rally and march at 11:30 a.m. near the corner of Wabash and Wacker, and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights planned a rally at the intersection of Adams and Michigan.
An invite for Monday's fundraiser obtained by NBC 5 indicates that the event will be hosted in part by Todd Ricketts, the Republican National Committee finance chair and part-owner of the Chicago Cubs.
Ricketts also serves as the chair of the Trump Victory Committee, a joint fundraising committee for the RNC and the president's campaign organization. In June, he hosted a reception at Wrigley Field as part of a three-day retreat in Chicago for major Trump donors.
Also listed among the hosts for Monday's event were RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, Co-Chairman Tommy Hicks Jr. and Trump's Campaign Manager Brad Parscale.
Tickets to the event ranged widely in price, according to the invitation: from $2,800 per person for a ticket to the lunch to $35,000 per couple for a photo opportunity, reaching $100,000 per person for access to a roundtable discussion with Trump himself.
In preparation for Trump's visit and the ensuing protests, the Chicago Police Department placed safety barriers along the Chicago River as part of a wide-ranging “rolling security plan.”
Various security and safety measures were being implemented by the department, and residents were told to expect significant traffic impacts, rolling street closures, and the potential for large crowd gatherings throughout the president’s visit.
Up to 1,800 extra police officers will be available if needed, according to the Chicago Tribune.