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Democratic mayors raise alarm over deployment of federal officers: 'Really dangerous for America'

Democratic mayors raise alarm over deployment of federal officers: 'Really dangerous for America'
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Democratic mayors on Wednesday raised alarm over the deployment of federal officers in cities, calling on Americans and fellow mayors to express concern.

Five mayors, who spoke during a U.S. Conference of Mayors press conference, said they worried about the Trump administration’s use of federal authorities for “political purposes” to crack down on demonstrations in cities.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) said the administration’s deployment of federal officers to address public safety without an official invite is “unprecedented” as public safety is primarily left to the state and local governments. 

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“This pattern of using the federal is unprecedented in our country’s history,” she said, adding “and this steady drumbeat is really dangerous for America.”

The mayors expressed frustration with the lack of communication and collaboration between the federal government and their cities amid President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race MORE's ordered deployments and threatened deployments. Albuquerque, N.M., Mayor Tim Keller (D) said he was given no written notice and just a quick call ahead of federal authorities entering his city. 

“When we see what’s happening in these cities … every mayor in America should be concerned,” Keller said.

The conference call came shortly after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced that some federal authorities would be leaving Portland after they had clashed with demonstrators for weeks. 

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) said on the call that he was “pleased that we’ve reclaimed Portland,” adding that he plans to stand up for other cities too. 

“I’m going to continue to stand with other mayors and we will continue to fight this occupation until these forces are gone from every city,” he said. 

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Wheeler argued that the “unwarranted” and “unconstitutional” deployment of federal officers made the demonstrations “much, much worse” instead of helping alleviate the city. 

Durkan, Seattle’s mayor, said Department of Justice officials like Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Merrick Garland on list to be Biden's attorney general: report DOJ dropping charges against ex-Mexican defense minister MORE are presenting a “false dichotomy” that city officials do not want to prevent damage and vandalism. She pointed to the Portland protests and asked how the federal authorities stopped these acts. 

“They weren’t there to keep the peace,” she said. “They were there to have a battle.”

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) and Oakland, Calif., Mayor Libby Schaaf (D) also joined the press conference. 

Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement will begin withdrawing from Portland on Thursday. But the Department of Homeland Security will keep officers in the city to protect the federal courthouse that has served as the main gathering place for the demonstrations. 

The announcement of the partial withdrawal came shortly after Trump had declared the authorities would not leave “until they’ve secured the city.”

Washington state officials also announced Tuesday night that federal authorities were leaving Seattle after they were sent “without the consultation or consent of state and local officials.” 

The president first ordered federal law enforcement to report to Portland after protests over police brutality had continued since the May death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Trump announced officers would be sent to Chicago and Albuquerque last week, and on Wednesday added Cleveland, Milwaukee and Detroit to the list. 

Democrats have criticized the actions of federal officers in the city as reports have indicated they had used tear gas to clear protests, while demonstrators set off fireworks and ignited fires near the federal courthouse. Protesters were reportedly being detained and placed in unmarked vans.