WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would send federal law enforcement officers to Chicago to address the city’s recent increase in violence, his latest deployment of federal agents to Democratic-run cities that the president has claimed are out of control.
“I am announcing that the Department of Justice will immediately surge federal law enforcement to the city of Chicago. The FBI, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service and Homeland Security will together be sending hundreds of skilled law enforcement officers to Chicago to help drive down violent crime,” Trump said at a White House event addressing crime in cities.
Trump said he would also be sending law enforcement to other cities “soon,” including Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Trump has recently been criticized for sending federal forces into cities from Washington, D.C., to Portland, Oregon, without permission from local officials. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum sued the Department of Homeland Security on Friday after federal agents were deployed to Portland to suppress Black Lives Matter protests, and a group of big-city mayors formally asked congressional leaders Tuesday to investigate Trump’s use of federal agents in cities.
“We must remember that the job of policing a neighborhood falls on the shoulder of local elected leadership. Never forget that. When they abdicate their duty, the results are catastrophic. Americans must hold their city leaders accountable,” Trump said Wednesday.
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Trump has suggested that he is considering sending federal law enforcement to New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and other cities.
“The cities unfortunately that are in trouble are all run by Democrats,” Trump said later at a White News news conference when asked whether he was unfairly targeting certain cities for political reasons. “I think in their own way, they want us to go in.”
“At some point, we may have no other choice but to go in,” he said.
Federal agents have already been sent to Kansas City, Missouri, as part of the Trump administration’s Operation Legend, aimed at addressing violent crime in cities.
Mayor Quinton Lucas told NBC News’ Chuck Todd on MSNBC that the agents were asked to be there for “investigative support” in solving murder cases.
Gun violence has surged around the U.S. this summer, hitting communities of color already struggling through the coronavirus pandemic the hardest. In Chicago, shootings have increased by 76 percent from the same time last year, with nearly all of the bloodshed concentrated in the city’s predominantly Black and brown communities. Fifteen people were wounded in a shooting at a Chicago funeral home Tuesday.
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Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Tuesday that her administration would be working with federal agents to help address the recent violence, but she warned the White House that she would not tolerate any abuse of power.
“I sent a letter to the president yesterday outlining various ways in which, if he really wanted to partner with us, that he could do so,” Lightfoot told the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday. “What we do not welcome and what we will not tolerate and we will fight against is the deployment of unnamed federal special secret agents onto our streets to detain people without cause and effectively take away their civil rights and their civil liberties without due process.”
On Wednesday, Lightfoot’s office said her conversation with Trump was “brief and straightforward.”
“Mayor Lightfoot maintains that all resources will be investigatory in nature and be coordinated through the U.S. Attorney’s office,” the statement said. “The Mayor has made clear that if there is any deviation from what has been announced, we will pursue all available legal options to protect Chicagoans.”