This proposal comes after the highly criticized deployment of federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to Portland, Oregon, following intensifying riots perpetrated by Antifa and the Black Lives Matter movement. These same violent groups have also threatened the lives of federal officers as well as federal properties.
In Chicago’s case, President Donald Trump plans to send around 175 federal officers who will help the Chicago Police Department (CPD) deal with illegal gun sales, arrest fugitives suspected of participating in gun-related activities and bring down federal charges on them.
This move is part of a broader initiative by the Department of Justice to provide federal troops and other resources to areas around the country – most notably, cities controlled by officials from the Democratic Party – that are experiencing crime waves as a result of the massive civil unrest that followed the death of George Floyd in late May and has overwhelmed cities like Portland. (Related: Black man with American flag tries to stop rioters from damaging Federal Courthouse in Portland, says “None of you guys represent Black lives.”)
Trump has previously threatened to send in federal agents to Chicago and other Democrat-controlled cities to deal a decisive blow against the rioters fomenting civil unrest in these areas. However, local and state officials have criticized the plan “as an attempt to shore up” Trump’s electoral base.
Current national polling figures have the president trailing behind the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, former vice president Joe Biden. Both candidates have taken opposing sides over the national debate about law enforcement. While Trump has styled himself as the candidate who can bring about law and order in a divided nation, Biden has spent his time decrying the actions of law enforcement officers in Portland and other parts of the country.
Chicago mayor says city needs safety nets not federal agents
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat, has come out strongly against sending federal agents into her city. She has stated that what Chicagoans need right now are safety nets and public support programs and “not games.”
After the report came out that the DHS was planning to send federal officers to Chicago, Lightfoot positioned herself in opposition to the proposal. She sent a letter to the president detailing her criticisms.
“Militarized assistance within our borders that would not be within our control or within the direct command of the Chicago Police Department would spell disaster,” Lightfoot wrote in her open letter to Trump. “Secret federal agents who do not know Chicago, are unfamiliar with the unique circumstances of our neighborhoods and who would operate outside the established infrastructure … will foment a massive wave of opposition.”
Lightfoot suggested that, instead of sending in federal agents, Trump might be better positioned to help Chicago deal with its gun violence by promoting the passage of sweeping gun control legislation and supporting community programs that address violence, poverty and racial inequity.
Chicago has confiscated more firearms than New York and Los Angeles combined.
The mayor made similar remarks at a press conference held on Monday, July 20. “We don’t need federal agents without insignia taking people off the street and holding them, I think, unlawfully,” she said.
Lightfoot has also weighed in on the situation in Portland, by saying that she believes the arrest and detention of rioters in Portland have undermined the confidence residents may have had in the federal, state and local governments that preside over their lives.
Chicagoans protest against federal intervention in the city
Many residents of Chicago have already made known their sentiments about the Trump administration’s proposal. On Monday evening, several groups of people marched in downtown Chicago to protest against it. The demonstration also served as a protest against the president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, John Catanzara, Jr., who sent a letter to Trump extending an invitation to federal agents to come aid the city’s beleaguered police department.
The marchers, numbering around 100 people, gathered at Federal Plaza in the city’s Loop neighborhood. From there, they made their way north to Trump Tower, where they engaged in a brief skirmish with CPD officers for violating the law (several protesters continued to occupy the sidewalks). They could not come close to Trump Tower, however, as raised bridges and police officers on horseback prevented them from getting too close.
The demonstration against the Trump administration coincided with an ongoing battle that the CPD and the city of Chicago have been having with rioters over a statue of Christopher Columbus in Grant Park. Several CPD officers have been injured protecting the statue from rioters, who have been recorded throwing projectiles such as rocks, bottles and soda cans.
Find out more about what President Donald Trump is trying to do to put an end to the rampant waves of rioting, civil unrest and general criminality that have swept the nation for over the past eight weeks at Trump.news.