Trump announces ‘surge’ of federal agents in Chicago despite outrage over Portland crackdown

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Donald Trump has announced that he will “send” federal law enforcement officers to Chicago “immediately” to quell the violence there, drawing on a similar force already operating under legally questionable orders in Portland.

Democratic lawmakers have accused the president of using federal police deployments as a campaign tactic. Part of his sales pitch for a second term, despite falling behind former Vice President Joe Biden nationally and in most major swing states, is that he is a “president of law and law. order ”. But the majority of American voters, according to several polls in recent weeks, oppose Mr. Trump’s response to violence across the country, much of which is linked to the murder of George Floyd and other black people by white policemen.

The FBI, ATF, Drug Enforcement Agency, US Marshals Service and Department of Homeland Security will send “hundreds” of “highly qualified” officers to Chicago “immediately,” he said in a statement. ceremony in the East Room.

The president said violent protesters in Chicago and other cities violated “several federal laws,” and he expects federal police forces to make many arrests.

Amid reports that Kansas City is next, the president said additional deployments to other cities will be coming soon. Specifically, he pointed out Albuquerque, New Mexico.

He accused Democratic officials at local, state and national levels of trying to dismantle the police and deal with violent undocumented immigrants as the announcement turned into another campaign event.

“Opportunities cannot thrive where there is violence,” he said. “Security cannot exist where there are violent criminals. ”

Attorney General William Barr, who spoke after the president, added Kansas City to the list, saying more will be added to the list “in the coming weeks.”

Mr Barr said the recent violence was directly linked to an “attack” on the police, presumably the slogan “defund the police” pushed by some black activists and a number of Democratic lawmakers.

When that slogan went viral earlier this year, many Democrats in the House and Senate repeated it publicly. But they were soon forced to scramble to explain that they didn’t want to take the money out of the police department entirely, explaining that they wanted to shift some of their funding to other social programs.

‘Rampage de violence’

“This outburst of violence… shocks our nation. … We will not sit idly by and watch it, ”added Mr. Trump, criticizing the Democratic leadership.

“Shocking explosion of … murders … and heinous crimes”, declared the president, pledging to “bring to justice the violent perpetrators”.

“We have just launched this process and frankly we have no choice but to get involved,” he added, promising to make “every city” safe. “We will provide that security. You’ll see, ”he said.

He chose Chicago, saying so many people were shot there – including 23 on Tuesday – that recent crime figures “are not too believable.” Over Father’s Day weekend, 104 people were gunned down and 15 were killed, including five young children. . ”

“It’s so sad to see… how these lives have been torn apart,” the president said, reading slowly and darkly on a teleprompter, sometimes sounding ad-lib.

‘Like a bulldozer’

The new deployments, which are expected to be carried out by federal agents under the wing of the Department of Justice, follow a controversial deployment to the city of Oregon.

“We had content [situation], we were using our de-escalation strategies. We made limited arrests of people who were engaged in illegal activities, that is the modern police. And then these guys came in like a bulldozer, “Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said.” And what he did was re-energized the Portlanders, brought people back to the streets.

Mr Wheeler and other Oregon Democrats accuse the president of using the deployment there to aid his candidacy for a second term. He lost ground with suburban and older voters; Democrats say he’s trying to win back security-conscious voters in a handful of battlefield states experts say will decide the November 3 election.

Legal experts and Democratic officials are questioning the legality of the deployments, saying they raise a range of questions – although there is no serious pressure on Capitol Hill to try to limit or stop them. Major lawmakers are scrambling to negotiate another coronavirus recovery deal.

One expert said some aspects of federal police operations are likely legal, while others may not.

“There is certainly reason to be alarmed by what is happening in Portland. And even though federal agents technically comply with the relevant laws, there is something more than just improper about camouflaged agents refusing to identify themselves or their employer claiming to make arrests on the streets of American cities ” , according to Steve Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas Law School. “It remains to be seen whether these officers are in fact abusing their authority or not, but either answer would be deeply troubling. “

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