President Trump announced Wednesday that he is expanding use of federal agents in three more cities, sending personnel to Chicago, Albuquerque, and Kansas City to put a stop to the mass protests and resistance that he has characterized as “violence.” This comes after the feds have terrorized Portland, Oregon for weeks, using force to quell the ongoing uprising against racial injustice that has been sustained in the city for nearly two months by tear gassing protestors and kidnapping them off the streets. The rollout of federal agents to American cities is being billed by the Trump administration as an “anti-crime” program they say is unrelated to the protests, called “Operation Legend.”
According to CBS News, the Department of Justice will send over 100 federal agents from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives to Chicago, and at least 100 agents from the Department of Homeland Security already located there will be assigned to the operation, as well. The Trump administration has also sent over 200 agents to Kansas City and 35 to Albuquerque, with plans to send more.
The move comes despite opposition from local leaders. “That’s what we call tyranny, and dictatorship, and we are not having it in Chicago,” CBS News reports that Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot said.
“We always welcome partnerships in constitutional crime fighting that are in step with our community, but we won’t sell out our city for a bait and switch excuse to send secret police to Albuquerque,” mayor Tim Keller said in a statement. “Operation Legend is not real crime fighting; it’s politics standing in the way of police work and makes us less safe.”
On Wednesday night in Portland, mayor Ted Wheeler was tear gassed along with protesters, which he called an “egregious overreaction,” according to the New York Times. “I can tell you with 100 percent honesty, I saw nothing which provoked this response,” Wheeler said. “It’s going to stop now.”
The DOJ, Attorney General William Barr, and President Trump have used racist “anti-crime” language that implies Black Lives Matter protests are to blame for increases in “gang violence” as justification for sending in troops to U.S. cities. It is reminiscent of language used by Nixon and Reagan administrations during the “War on Drugs.” Many of the agents being sent in are U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents from DHS, and immigration activists have noted the similarities between how those agents policed the border and how they are being used in Portland.
Portland is not the test run, it’s the rollout. Communities like El Paso have been the testing ground for decades. What we’re seeing in Portland is the widespread implementation of the policies we grew up seeing, used against a majority white population for the first time. https://t.co/qbRUgPnHEi
— Sunrise El Paso (@SunriseElPaso) July 20, 2020
“The CBP has enjoyed legal authority to treat people and communities at the border with force untethered from the Constitution and without legal accountability,” Linus Chan and Carrie L. Rosenbaum wrote at Slate. “It is tragic, but perhaps unsurprising, that they are now conducting themselves in the same reckless and lawless manner in our cities and against people who are accustomed to constitutional protections.”
The White House said the goal of Operation Legend is to restore “peace and order” to American cities, but the federal agents tasked with doing that will do the exact opposite, if Portland is any indication. Their presence has led to larger protests, more organized unrest, and extreme violence inflicted on the people resisting the military occupation of their city.
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