The Rev. Darrell Scott, left, speaks to then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during a conference at the New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, on Sept. 21, 2016. (Mandel Ngan / Getty-AFP)
Cleveland pastor Darrell Scott‘s much ballyhooed summit of what he publicly told President Donald Trump were Chicago’s "top gang thugs" is back on.
It’s not happening in Englewood, Austin, or any of the other Chicago neighborhoods struggling with gun violence — but in a hotel in Washington D.C., on Tuesday.
And Scott is no longer describing the attendees as "top gang thugs." Now they’re "former street guys."
"It’s what I always said it was going to be," Scott told Chicago Inc.
During a televised Feb. 1 meeting with Trump, Scott said he had secured a commitment from gang leaders to "lower the body count" in exchange for federal funds for social programs. That claim was greeted with widespread skepticism by Chicagoans, an impression that wasn’t improved when Scott last month canceled a proposed summit in suburban Rosemont on short notice, saying some attendees could not make it.
But Scott said Monday that "the location of the meeting isn’t important — what matters is the content of the meeting." Torrence Cooks, a 44-year-old reputed former member of the Gangster Disciples who reached out to Scott to request his help, is bringing a delegation of 15 people from Chicago to the D.C. meeting, Scott said. Representatives of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, business leaders and charities will attend, he said.
Scott, who has been criticized as being out of touch by Chicagoans who are attempting to tackle street violence, acknowledged Monday that he has not been to Chicago for two years. He said that it would have been harder for him to get federal officials to attend a meeting in Chicago.
"What do you want me to do — go walking down the street in Chicago so people will know who I am?," he said.
"I never set out to be the hero of Chicago. If someone had called me from Fairbanks, Alaska, or Omaha, Nebraska, and said ‘We have a problem,’ I would have helped them, too — it just happened to be Chicago."