Trump’s discussion with Ohio pastor about Chicago violence baffles leaders here

CHICAGO -- After another bloody January in Chicago, President Trump once again talked tough about the city today. The president met with a black pastor, who is not from Chicago, but said gangs respect Trump and want to work out a deal to curb the violence.

Today, at a White House Black History Month program, Rev. Darrell Scott, a loyal Trump supporter, told the president Chicago gangs wanted to meet about reducing gun violence.

Rev. Scott is pastor of New Spirit Revival Center in the Cleveland area and a regular cable news contributor. His ties to Chicago are not clear.

“I was recently contacted by some of the top gang thugs in Chicago for a  sit down,” Rev. Scott told Trump. “They reached out to me because they associated me with you. They respect you, they believe in what you’re doing and they want to have a sit down about lowering that body count.”

By afternoon, Scott reversed himself in this phone interview.

“I misspoke,” he told WGN News.”I only had three hours sleep at the time. I meant to say former street thugs. Former.”

Still, Scott says he and other African American leaders will soon travel to Chicago to offer assistance.

Saying Chicago is out of control, President Trump called the meeting a great idea.

“These are guys straight from the streets, no politicians,” Trump said. “Straight street guys and they’re going to commit that if they lower that body count we’ll come in and we’re going to do some social programs. … If they’re not going to solve the problem – what you’re doing is the right thing – then, we’re going to solve the problem for them because we’re going to have to do something about Chicago.”

In Chicago, Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church on the South Side blasted Rev. Scott.

“I guess the first thing is where’s he been and who is he?” Father Pfleger said. “Where’s he bee while we’ve been fighting this thing for years? Where has this pastor been and why hasn’t anybody heard about him?”

Pfleger says based on Scott’s comments, it’s clear he doesn’t understand Chicago’s gun violence problem.

“It’s very surprising to me, as somebody who works with brothers in the street all the time, that they reached out to Akron, Ohio … If you care about this, how come you haven’t done anything about this until now and you’re sitting at breakfast with Donald Trump? How much money is involved?”

President Trump routinely highlights Chicago violence and Mayor Emanuel today said enough with the talk, Chicago needs the feds to help prosecutor gun crimes and provide money for cops and youth programs.

“You can do what you’re doing in Englewood but if there isn’t a mentoring program, a summer job or an activity, it’s not going solve the problem,” Emanuel said.

City leaders say they want federal help but not the National Guard. Father Pfleger says he’s worried the president will, on a whim, decide to send the Guard here.