Mayor blames Richard Nixon for Chicago’s intractable violence

CHICAGO — In recent years, Chicago’s leaders have blamed a wide range of external factors for the city’s infamous street violence. They’ve pointed fingers at Donald Trump, Indiana, Kim Foxx, gun manufacturers, and the Pilgrims, among others.

On Monday, after 109 people were shot, 21 fatally, during the Independence Day weekend, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson became the first leader to blame Richard Milhous Nixon.

“We are standing here today talking about a violent weekend because of generations of disinvestment,” Johnson told a room full of reporters.

“Black death has been unfortunately accepted in this country for a very long time,” Johnson claimed. “We had a chance 60 years ago to get at the root causes and people mocked President [Lyndon] Johnson and we ended up with Richard Nixon.”

The primary reason Lyndon Johnson did not beat Richard Nixon in 1968, historians might argue, is that Lyndon Johnson chose not to run for re-election. Nixon died in 1994.

It’s also unclear how Johnson concluded that Chicagoans, who have relentlessly called on city leaders to address violent crime, are accepting of “Black death.”

Johnson also suggested that federal and state law enforcement agencies aren’t doing enough to help Chicago. He called on federal agencies to respond to mass shootings in Chicago “just like they do in other places in this country.”

He “hopes” the state and feds will “swiftly come to the support of the city of Chicago,” said Johnson.

“It’s not enough for me to stand here and say homicides are down and shootings are down,” Johnson continued. “It’s not enough.”

In addition to not being enough, it’s also, after this past weekend, not true. Year-to-date shootings are now up compared to 2023. Homicides are still trailing last year’s tally by about 10%.

Johnson also vowed to hold “every single individual” responsible for the weekend’s violence accountable. 

CPD Supt. Larry Snelling expressed the same thought: “We need to take these people off the street, and we need to keep them off the street.”

Violence during summertime gatherings has been a problem for as long as most Chicagoans can remember. But the police can only do so much, said Snelling, who called such violence a “societal issue.”

Police “cannot invade every single gathering where there’s a possibility that someone may show up with a gun,” Snelling remarked.

Subsequent to the publication of our story, the Richard Nixon Foundation responded to the mayor’s comment.

“Mayor Johnson’s reference to President Nixon is gratuitous and the facts are not on his side in his characterization of Richard Nixon and the Nixon administration’s civil rights record,” the organization said in a tweet, adding a long list of accomplishments it claims Nixon made in furtherance of civil rights.

“In 1971, the Nixon administration developed a plan to carry out the 1954 SCOTUS decision in Brown v. Board of Education to desegregate all schools in the South. In 1969, 64% of Southern Schools were segregated. By 1974, 8% were segregated. Done effectively and peacefully,” read one example.

“Nixon issued an executive order calling on federal government agencies to apply equal-opportunity policies to every aspect of federal personnel policies and practices,” the foundation continued. “Nixon allocated $12 million for research on sickle-cell anemia, a blood disorder that afflicts one out of every 500 black children, with the hope of decreasing that number.”

“From 1969 to 1971, the government’s federal purchases from black-owned businesses increased more than 900 percent, from $13 million to $142 million,” said another tweet. “In 1969, Nixon issued an executive order creating an Office of Minority Business Enterprise in the Commerce Department.”

“Nixon mandated that federal contractors had to comply with equal employment-opportunity laws. This ‘Philadelphia Plan,’ led to the dismantling of institutionalized racism in labor unions. The Nixon administration was the first to institute plans to increase jobs for minorities in the construction industry,” said the foundation.

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About Tim Hecke 374 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com