State Watch

14 mayors ask feds to stop deploying officers to cities in response to protests

A group of 14 mayors called on the Trump administration to stop deploying federal officers to major cities that have seen large protests in recent months.

In a letter to Attorney General William Barr and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Tuesday, the mayors voiced their “deep concern and objection to the deployment of federal forces in U.S. cities.”

President Trump this week has defended the deployment of federal officers to Portland, Ore., and again threatened to send forces to other cities.

“The unilateral deployment of these forces into American cities is unprecedented and violates fundamental constitutional protections and tenets of federalism,” the mayors wrote. “Deployment of federal forces in the streets of our communities has not been requested nor is it acceptable.” 

Signatories to the letter included the mayors of Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Atlanta; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Kansas City, Mo.; Boston; Philadelphia; Denver; Los Angeles; San Jose, Calif.; Oakland, Calif.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Sacramento, Calif.

They slammed President Trump for what they said was the politicization of federal law enforcement, noting that the White House has frequently singled out the largely Democratic leaders of the cities. 

“[I]t is concerning that federal law enforcement is being deployed for political purposes. The President and his administration continually attack local leadership and amplify false and divisive rhetoric purely for campaign fodder,” they wrote. “Their words and actions have created an environment of fear and mistrust.”

The letter comes amid national protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in May as well as a rise in gun violence in cities such as New York City and Chicago. 

Trump has adopted a tough tone even as the deployment of federal agents to Portland, Ore., to deal with ongoing demonstrations and violence has drawn intense scrutiny this week. 

“I’m going to do something — that, I can tell you,” Trump said Monday in response to a question about reports that his administration might send federal law enforcement to other major cities dealing with protests. The president mentioned Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia, among other cities.

The deployments have come under harsh scrutiny from Democrats after officers in Portland were seen grabbing protesters off the street and putting them in unmarked cars.

“These are tactics we expect from an authoritarian regime – not our democracy,” the mayors wrote.

The administration has defended the deployments, saying they are necessary to respond to the rising violence and protect federal property.

“What is occurring in Portland in the early hours of every morning is not peaceful protesting,” Wolf said Tuesday. “We have been forced because of local law enforcement presence to take measures such as arrests to protect our officials.”

“While I look forward to the day that our officers are redeployed back to their regular day-to-day mission, we will not shrink from our duty because of this violence.”

The mayors urged congressional leaders to investigate the deployments across the country, saying officers have “escalated events.”

“Their threats and actions have escalated events, and increased the risk of violence against both civilians and local law enforcement officers. These actions also jeopardize the many important ways federal and local law enforcement must work together to protect our cities and our country. We urge you to immediately investigate the President and his administration’s actions,” they wrote in a separate letter to the top Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate.

Tags Chad Wolf Donald Trump George Floyd protests Muriel Bowser Portland William Barr

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