President Donald Trump is to send “a wave” of federal security forces to American cities as part of a crackdown on crime.
Chicago and two other Democratic-led cities are targeted by the Republican president’s decision, amid a spike in violence.
But federal deployments to Portland, Oregon have proven controversial. Local officials say they have increased tensions amid the ongoing protests.
Law and order became a key part of Mr. Trump’s re-election in November.
Since the death on May 25 of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, in custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, there have been protests – sometimes descending into civil disorder – in many American cities.
Meanwhile, gun violence has increased in metropolitan areas such as New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Milwaukee.
What is Operation Legend?
It is named after a four-year-old boy, LeGend Taliferro, who was fatally injured in the face while sleeping at his family home in Kansas City in June. The boy’s mother joined the president in Wednesday’s announcement.
The operation will see agents from the FBI, the Marshal’s Service and other federal agencies working with local law enforcement, according to the US Department of Justice.
Mr Trump – whose opinion poll numbers have plummeted in a US economy crippled by coronavirus – said: “This outburst of violence shocks the conscience of our nation. ”
The president, who accuses Democrats of being weak on crime, said, “In recent weeks there has been a radical movement to defend, dismantle and disband our police service.”
He blamed it for “a shocking explosion of shootings, murders, murders and heinous crimes of violence.”
“This bloodshed must end,” he said. “This bloodshed will end. “
He added: “No mother should ever have to cradle her dead child in her arms just because politicians have refused to do what is necessary to secure their neighborhood and their city.”
US Attorney General William Barr, who was also with Mr Trump, said they sent about 200 federal agents to Kansas City, Missouri, would send a “comparable” number to Chicago and about 35 more to Albuquerque, New Brunswick. Mexico.
More than $ 60 million in federal grants are also being made available so that more police officers can be hired in the affected cities.
Mr Barr said enforcement of the expanded federal law would involve “classic crime fighting”, unlike the deployment of Department of Homeland Security agents to “defend against riots and mob violence” in Portland.
The attorney general previously announced a similar federal crackdown on rising crime in seven U.S. cities last December.
What is happening in these cities?
Federal agents fired tear gas, pepperballs and flashbangs at protesters in central Portland on Tuesday evening, which has seen 54 consecutive nights of protests.
Officers quickly used crowd control ammunition in an attempt to disperse hundreds of people gathered in federal court.
Officers were charged with driving unmarked vehicles around Oregon’s largest city while wearing military gear and arbitrarily arresting a handful of protesters.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot confirmed on Tuesday that federal agents would be deployed to her city to bolster local police.
“We welcome a real partnership, but we do not approve of dictatorship,” Ms. Lightfoot said at a press conference, warning that federal officers should not try the same tactics they used to Portland.
In the latest incident in Chicago, at least 14 people were shot dead outside a funeral home in an alleged gang-related attack.
- Fourteen mourners shot dead at Chicago funeral home
The city has seen 34% more homicides than last year, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
A 2018 FBI investigation found that the violent crime rate in Albuquerque was 3.7 times the national average. Murder and rape rates were more than double the national average that year.
Kansas City, meanwhile, is on track to record its highest number of homicides on record in 2020, according to the Kansas City Star. The city has now seen 110 homicides, with 50 more recorded in the greater metropolitan area.
Fight against crime or election?
Analyse par Tara McKelvey, Kansas City
A lot of people in Kansas City say the president’s plan isn’t what this place needs. Kansas City leans toward Democrat, and many oppose the president’s policies and oppose his aggressive policing mandate.
Traditionally, crime-fighting programs have been popular during election campaigns, and detractors for the president say the initiative is aimed more at his conservative supporters in the rural center than those who live in Kansas City and other parts of the city. other urban areas.
Critics of Mr Trump say the initiative is not much of an effort to tackle urban crime, saying it is simply a way to generate excitement among the president’s base of supporters before the elections.
Why is crime increasing?
Criminal justice experts note that the wave of crime has struck amid a coronavirus outbreak that has resulted in mass unemployment.
The Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit law enforcement agency, told ABC News that one of the factors behind the rise is that several jurisdictions are granting early release to inmates to prevent the spread. of Covid-19 in prisons.
New York City Police have blamed the rush on a bail reform law that requires judges to release defendants awaiting trial for serious crimes.
Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St Louis, told CNN that crime is on the rise in part because cities have emerged in recent weeks from coronavirus lockdowns.
Those same stay-at-home orders made it difficult for officers to conduct community outreach activities, while Floyd’s murder fueled mistrust of law enforcement in the areas they serve, according to criminal justice experts.
NYPD chief Terence Monahan recently said hostility towards his officers over the past two months has emboldened some people who believe “the cops can’t do anything anymore.”
There is also a suggestion that some law enforcement agencies might take a step back in frustration at the anti-police rhetoric.
According to CBS News, members of the Chicago Police Union recently urged officers in a text message not to volunteer for overtime, limit arrests and call sick to report the need to town hall. enforce the law.