Trump sends federal law enforcement officers to Chicago, Albuquerque

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U.S. President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr announced Wednesday that federal agents will storm Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico to help fight rising crime, expanding administration intervention in the local app as Trump runs for re-election under a “cloak order.”Hundreds of federal agents have already been dispatched to Kansas City, Missouri, to help quell a record increase in violence after a young boy was shot dead. Sending federal agents to help communities is not uncommon. Barr announced a similar effort in December for seven cities that had seen a rise in violence.

Usually, the Department of Justice sends officers under its own umbrella, such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or the Drug Enforcement Administration. But this intensive effort will include at least 100 Homeland Security Investigations Department operatives working in the region, who typically investigate drug trafficking and child exploitation.

DHS agents have already been dispatched to Portland, Oregon, and other locations to protect federal property and monuments as Trump lambasted the efforts of protesters to take down Confederate statues.

Trump has linked growing violence on the streets to protests against racial injustice, although criminal justice experts say the spike defies easy explanation, highlighting the unprecedented moment the country is going through – a pandemic that has killed more 140,000 Americans, historic unemployment, stay-at-home orders, massive consideration of race and police brutality, intense stress and even the weather. And compared to other years, crime is generally down.

WATCH | Officials demand Portland troops, Trump threatens more force:

State and local authorities in Oregon are calling on federal authorities, called upon to disperse protests, to leave Portland. But US President Donald Trump wants to expand his policing plans to other cities, blaming Democrats for the protests and ongoing unrest. 2:04

Local authorities have complained that pushes by federal agents have only exacerbated tensions in the streets.

The decision to send agents to American cities comes at a hyper-politicized time when Trump is trying to show he is a “law enforcement” president and paint Democrat-run cities as out of control.

With less than four months to go before the November election, Trump has issued dire warnings that the violence will escalate if his Democratic rival Joe Biden is elected president, as he tries to convince voters who may be influenced by it. message.

But civil unrest in Portland only escalated after federal agents were charged with taking people in unmarked cars without probable cause.

Local leaders reject federal presence

The spike in crime has hit some cities hard, whose resources were already depleted by the pandemic. But the decision to send federal forces was initially rejected by local leaders.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot later said she and other local officials spoke with federal officials and came to an agreement.

“I have been very clear that we welcome a real partnership,” the Democratic mayor said on Tuesday after speaking with federal officials.

“But we are not welcoming the dictatorship. We are not in favor of authoritarianism, and we are not in favor of unconstitutional arrests and detentions of our residents. This is something I will not tolerate. “

In New Mexico, meanwhile, elected Democrats were warning Trump against any possible plans to send federal agents into the state, with U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich calling Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales, who will be in charge. White House Wednesday, to resign. .

“Instead of working with the Albuquerque Police Department, the sheriff invites the president’s stormtroopers to Albuquerque,” the Democratic senator said in a statement.

But federal gun crimes are generally subject to much harsher penalties than state crimes – and larger-scale federal investigations that can cross state borders tend to have a big impact.

‘Officers will not patrol the streets’

The Department of Justice will reimburse Chicago US $ 3.5 million for the work of local law enforcement agencies on the federal task force. Through a separate federal fund, Chicago received $ 9.3 million to hire 75 new agents.

Two dozen officers will be sent to Albuquerque and the administration has made $ 1.5 million in funding available to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department for five new deputies and $ 9.4 million for 40 new officers to ‘Albuquerque.

In Kansas City, the federal prosecutor said that any officer involved in an operation to reduce violent crime in the area will be clearly identifiable during arrests, unlike what has been seen in Portland.

WATCH | Tear gas fired at protesters during a demonstration in Portland:

Protests against racism and police brutality have been taking place in Portland, Ore. Almost daily for more than 50 days since George Floyd died in custody in Minneapolis. The Trump administration has deployed federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security to quell protests. 4:22

“These officers will not be patrolling the streets,” said US Attorney Timothy Garrison. “They will not replace or usurp the authority of local agents. ”

Operation Legend – named after four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while sleeping in a Kansas City apartment late last month – was announced on July 8. The first arrest took place earlier this week.

Garrison said the 225 additional federal agents from the FBI, DEA, ATF and US Marshals Service join 400 agents who already work and live in the Kansas City area.

The Trump administration faces a growing setback in Portland. Multiple lawsuits have been brought to question the power of the federal government to use broad police powers in cities. A complaint filed Tuesday argues that federal agents are violating the 10th Amendment rights of protesters by engaging in police activities designated by local and state governments.

The Oregon attorney general filed a lawsuit last week, asking a judge to block the actions of federal agents. The state claimed masked officers arrested people on the streets without probable cause and away from the US courthouse, which has become a target of vandalism.

Federal officials, however, have said state and local authorities are unwilling to work with them to end the vandalism and violence against federal agents and the US courthouse.

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