CHICAGO — When President Donald Trump tweets or trash talks Democratic mayors or governors, it encourages extremist Americans to threaten these elected officials — who are most often women and people of color, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday.
Lightfoot’s comments come after the FBI foiled a Michigan militia’s plan to allegedly kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who Trump has routinely bashed by name in recent months, specifically criticizing her coronavirus-related business restrictions.
When asked Thursday about the Whitmer threat, Lightfoot said “all roads lead back to Donald Trump,” saying every time the president or his spokespeople attack Chicago and called out Lightfoot by name, she’s inundated by threats and hateful comments.
“I know this is the experience of other mayors and other elected officials across the country,” Lightfoot said.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t get some kind of harassment, whether it’s just repeated calls, things left on voicemail or other things threatening violence. Some of them are just people who want to vent … that goes with the territory. But there is a real cause and effect when the president names me in a disparaging way, which is usually what he does. And people feeling like they have license to make what I regard as real threats.”
Lightfoot said people have showed up at her Logan Square home in an effort to threaten or intimidate her, and she’s experienced calls in the middle of the night.
“When somebody’s calling in the middle of the night repeatedly, that’s an issue; and that has only happened since Donald Trump has been trying to attack me personally,” she said. “He seems to have a particular obsession with female and particularly mayors of color.”
Lightfoot said she didn’t share the story to be pitied, adding that she is “tough and strong,” but is concerned by the tone of political debate in the United States.
“I am distressed that my 12-year-old is growing up in this environment,” she said. “We can disagree on a range of issues, but Donald Trump has emboldened and empowered an element in our country that we know exists — sometimes we don’t want to talk about it, but it’s absolutely there. And there’s a lot of racist, misogynist, xenophobic people out there who threaten me and my family and other elected officials because the president gives them license.
“While Donald Trump’s name may not be in the charging documents, he has a measure of responsibility.”