This will not end well. And it’s not just Portland. Don’t be dulled by a lull in the action in your neck of the woods. The entire country is a powder keg, just waiting for the next big thing. Stay frosty.
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 House’s 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 House’s 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 lawmakers.
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.