Donald Trump is preparing to send hundreds of federal agents into Chicago as part of his so-called effort to combat city violence.
The president announced the move from the White House on Wednesday, claiming he had "no choice" but to expand the Justice Department initiative known as "Operation Legend." The Trump administration launched the program earlier this month in Kansas City, Missouri, with the purported intention to curb violent crimes in American cities.
"Citizens of Chicago are citizens of America, and they have the same right as every American to live in safety, dignity, and peace," Trump said from the East Room. "No mother should ever have to cradle her dead child in her arms simply because politicians refuse to do what is necessary to secure their neighborhood and to secure their city. Every American—no matter their income, their race, or their zip code—should be able to walk their city streets, free from violence and free from fear.
"For this reason, today 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 went on to say federal agents will work alongside local law enforcement to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice. He then suggested that the move wouldn't have been necessary had city officials done their job.
"Murders and violent criminals are breaking a wide range of federal laws ... we will find them, arrest them, and prosecute them," he continued. "They will be in jail for many years to come. And we will work with local police to identify violations of state and local laws to help ensure that offenders are caught and jailed for their crimes. But we must remember that the job of policing a neighborhood falls on the shoulders of local elected leadership."
Trump also said dozens of federal law enforcement agents would be deployed to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and other cities that will be announced at a later date. Many local residents and leaders have pushed back against the move, expressing concerns that it lead to a situation seen in Portland, where federal agents reportedly used unmarked vehicles to detain protestors.
The president's announcement came just a day after a mass shooting outside a Chicago funeral home. On the same day, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot confirmed federal agents were being deployed to her city, but reassured Chicagoans they wouldn't be terrorized.
"In Portland they ignored the U.S. Attorney, put these agents on the street and I don't think anyone can quibble with the fact that what happened was not only unconstitutional, it was undemocratic," Lightfoot said during a Tuesday press conference. "I've been very clear that we welcome actual partnership but we do not welcome dictatorship, we do not welcome authoritarianism and we do not welcome unconstitutional arrest and detainment of our residents. That is something we will not tolerate."
Under no circumstances will I allow Donald Trump’s troops to come to Chicago and terrorize our residents.— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) July 21, 2020
Philadelphia District Attorney LarryKrasner issued a warning to federal agents who are deployed to his city.
"My dad volunteered and served in World War II to fight fascism, like most of my uncles, so we would not have an American president brutalizing and kidnapping Americans for exercising their constitutional rights and trying to make America a better place, which is what patriots do," Krasner said in a statement. "Anyone, including federal law enforcement, who unlawfully assaults and kidnaps people will face criminal charges from my office."