2020-07-23 05:46:43 UTC
President Trump is deploying 100 federal agents to Chicago to help combat rising
rates of some crimes a move that marks an expansion of the White Houses
intervention into local law enforcement as Trump continues to position himself
as the law and order president.
The "surge" of agents announced on Wednesday to Chicago and other American
cities is part of Operation Legend named after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro,
who was fatally shot while sleeping in a Kansas City apartment late last month
and comes as federal law enforcement officers have already descended on
Portland, Ore. and Kansas City, Mo.
The effort to shut down police in their own communities has led to a shocking
explosion of shootings, killing, violence, murders, Trump said during a speech
in the White Houses East Room. This rampage of violence shocks the conscience
of our nation and we will not stand by and watch it happen.
While sending federal agents to aid local law enforcement is not unprecedented
Attorney General Bill Barr announced a similar surge effort in December for
seven cities that had seen spiking violence the type of federal agent being
sent, and some of their tactics, have raised concerns among state and local
Usually, the Justice Department sends agents under its own umbrella, like agents
from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or the Drug
Enforcement Administration. But this surge effort will include Department of
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) officers, who generally conduct drug
trafficking and child exploitation investigations.
A number of lawmakers from New York to Portland have spoken out against the
Trump administration sending the agents to their cities, especially following
reports that unidentified federal agents detained protesters in Portland and
took them away in unmarked vehicles. Portland has been hit with near-daily
demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism since the death of
George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.
Local authorities also have complained the surges have only exacerbated
tensions, and criminal justice experts say the efforts defy explanation because
of the unprecedented moment America is living through with a pandemic,
historic unemployment and a mass reckoning over racism and how people of color
are treated by police.
The president is attacking progressive cities with troops who are unwelcome and
unskilled, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said in a letter signed by 16 mayors
calling on Trump to reverse his orders. Militarized agents are terrorizing the
American people. We must stand together for peace and reform, and against these
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot added: We welcome partnership, not dictatorship,
and will never tolerate the kind of unconstitutional deployment and
state-sanctioned lawlessness we saw in Portland.
Chicago, which is currently experiencing a spat of deadly gun violence, has been
a particular target of Trumps criticism. A shooting at a funeral home earlier
this week left 14 people injured, and followed a weekend that saw 10 people
killed and 60 people injured due to gun violence.
At least 414 people have been murdered in the city this year, Trump said.
These are numbers that are not even to be believed.
The decision to dispatch federal agents to American cities is playing out at a
hyper-politicized moment when Trump is trying to show he is a law-and-order
president and painting Democratic-led cities as out of control. With less than
four months to go before Election Day, Trump has been serving up dire warnings
that the violence would worsen if his Democratic rival Joe Biden is elected in
November, as he tried to win over voters who could be swayed by that message.
Trump has worked to tie Biden to some of the progressive Democratic lawmakers
have echoed calls of protestors to defund the police. The president said that
Democratic leaders have embraced the ideology of the radical left to defund the
However, Biden has not called on police to be either defunded or abolished, but
has argued for better training and a redistribution of funding to other social
The use of federal agents against the will of local officials also has set up
the potential for a constitutional crisis, according to legal experts.