Mayors Push for Removal of Federal Forces as Violence Spikes
The mayors of some of the largest cities in the United States urged the Trump administration to remove federal officers, claiming that the officers’ enforcement of laws violates the U.S. Constitution.
“We write to express our deep concern and objection to the to the deployment of federal forces in our cities, as those forces are conducting law enforcement activities without coordination or authorization of local law enforcement officials,” the mayors wrote in a letter this week.
“The unilateral deployment of these forces into American cities is unprecedented and violates fundamental constitutional protections and tenets of federalism,” they added.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, and Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas signed the letter. All are Democrats.
Republican President Donald Trump promised earlier Monday to send more federal personnel to major cities that are both experiencing spikes in violence and struggling to quell it.
He named New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, and potentially Oakland, Calif.
Rioting has taken place in Portland nightly since late May. But Wheeler in recent days says federal forces, which surged in the area in the past few weeks, are to blame.
Portland’s city attorney was directed to explore legal options to respond to the federal actions, Wheeler said in a statement released with the letter.
Lightfoot said in an appearance on MSNBC the situation in Portland was concerning because local officials weren’t given advance notice and because unmarked vehicles were used in at least one arrest. She falsely stated that federal forces had no insignia on their uniforms.
“Our democracy is at stake. And I’ll be darned if I’m going to let anybody—even if their name is Mr. President—bring those kind of troops to our city and try to take off our residents. That’s not going to happen in Chicago. And if they try it, I’m going to try every tool at my disposal to stop them,” she said.
Lucas said he was “proud to stand” with the other mayors “against federal intervention in local protests.”
In the letter, the mayors singled out how federal forces are under investigation for striking a man in the head with a munition. The man, who allegedly threw a smoke grenade at officers, is in the hospital with a fractured skull, his mother told news outlets.
The mayors also allege that federal law enforcement is being deployed “for political purposes.” Trump and his administration “continually attack local leadership and amplify false and divisive rhetoric purely for campaign fodder,” they wrote.
The letter was sent to Attorney General William Barr and acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.
The Department of Justice didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Wolf said in an appearance on Fox News on Monday that some of the remarks from Wheeler and other officials haven’t been accurate.
“They don’t understand the authorities and the responsibility the Department of Homeland Security has. We protect almost 9,000 federal facilities across the country. We did that 10 years ago, and we did it long before this civil unrest started, and we’ll continue to do that,” Wolf said.
“And so, I don’t need invitations by the state, state mayors, or state governors to do our job. We’re going to do that whether they like us there or not. That’s our responsibility.”