Chicago Mayor Blames Criticism on Racism as City Faces Crime, Migrant Crisis

(Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)
September 7, 2023

Democratic Chicago mayor Brandon Johnson this week blamed racism for criticism of the job he's done in the first months of his administration.

"There is a different standard that I’m held to. There is," Johnson said Tuesday, according to the Chicago Tribune. "And that’s not something that I’m mad at, but that’s just the reality. I’m not the first person of color, particularly a Black man, that will be held to a different standard than other administrations."

Johnson objected to coverage describing a "slow" start to his administration, which has been marred by a surge in crime and a migrant housing crisis, calling such observations "microaggressions."

"You all read the press. I don’t. But you all look at these dynamics," Johnson said. "You all know how there’s been a certain, particular coverage of me, right? Think about it. You know, there’s coverage of me being slow, right? These are microaggressions, that if you don’t have the lens of those who have lived through these experiences, you would just miss it. You would, because the same—some of the folks who would call me slow, do you understand what that term means? Particularly [toward] the Black community. So you have these forces that perpetuate a particular view of Blackness."

This is not the first time Johnson has deflected blame for his policy failures. Last month, the city of Chicago sued automakers Kia and Hyundai because thieves can more easily break into the manufacturers' vehicles.

Johnson's administration, which began in May, has been marred by violence, with crime in the city increasing 38 percent over his first month in office. One Democratic alderwoman, Maria Hadden, asked gang members last month not to shoot each other between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m in order to reduce the risk of innocent bystanders being hurt.

The city is also facing a migrant crisis as Republican officials have bused migrants to Chicago, which Johnson has advertised as a "sanctuary city." One aide to the mayor last month predicted the crisis will worsen ahead of the 2024 Democratic National Convention next August, which will take place in Chicago.

"We have to plan for the increase. They’re gonna do everything they can because this is all political, and they want to make the case that Democratic-led cities are not capable of living up to the values that we have," the aide, Cristina Pacione-Zayas, said.

Published under: Brandon Johnson , Chicago