July 23, 2020
Donald Trump has vowed to send a “surge” of federal agents to US cities – a move he portrayed as a crackdown on violence and crime. It has proven extremely controversial among campaigners and opposition politicians.
How Trump Is Using A Violent Crackdown To Paint Himself As A Strongman
Here’s what has been going on in the US, and why the president has chosen this action now.What did Donald Trump announce? On Wednesday, the president announced he would deploy a “surge” of federal agents to Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Hundreds have already been sent to Kansas City, Missouri, as part of “Operation Legend” following the fatal shooting of a young boy there.
Operation Legend is named after LeGend Taliferro, a four-year-old boy who was killed in June by a stray bullet while he slept. The FBI is still searching for suspects.
Federal security forces have also been sent to Portland, Oregon, in recent weeks following two months of anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in May. 
But local authorities have said the presence of federal agents on the streets of Portland has only exacerbated tensions and helped escalate civil unrest, with reports of protesters being masked and bundled into unmarked vehicles by agents.
Despite this, Trump wants to expand his “Operation Legend” programme to more cities.
He told reporters in the White House: “In recent weeks, there has been a radical movement to defund, dismantle, and dissolve our police departments. Extreme politicians have joined this anti-police crusade and relentlessly vilified our law enforcement heroes.”
The president claimed: “To look at it from any standpoint, the effort to shut down policing in their own communities has led to a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders, and heinous crimes of violence. This bloodshed must end. This bloodshed will end.
“Today, I’m announcing a surge of federal law enforcement into American communities plagued by violent crime.”  
Trump painted Democrat-led cities as out of control, lashing out at the “radical left”, which he blamed for rising violence in some cities. 
Crime reports *did* go up in some cities like Chicago, New York and Philadelphia when stay-at-home orders lifted, the Associated Press reported. 
However, criminal justice experts have pointed to the unprecedented moment: a pandemic that has killed over 140,000 Americans, historic unemployment, a mass reckoning over race and police brutality, intense stress and even the weather.
Compared with other years, crime in 2020 is down overall.
On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted: “We will continue to defend our constitutional rights from Trump’s lawlessness – in Portland, Chicago and wherever else necessary.” We will continue to defend our constitutional rights from Trump’s lawlessness — in Portland, Chicago, and wherever else necessary.— ACLU (@ACLU) July 22, 2020What do the leaders of Chicago and Albuquerque think about Trump’s plans? Both Trump and Attorney General William Barr insisted that the “surge” of federal agents being sent to Chicago and Albuquerque would be different to the operations in Portland. 
The president said: “The DHS mission in Portland is to protect federal property and our law enforcement officers. In Chicago, the mission is to protect the public from violent crime on the streets.”
Meanwhile, Barr said the federal agents would serve as “street” agents and investigators who would be working to “solve murders and take down violent gangs”.
“This is different than the operations and tactical teams we use to defend against riots and mob violence,” Barr said.
“We will continue to confront mob violence. But the operations we are discussing today are very different – they are classic crime fighting.”
However, it’s fair to say that the leaders of Chicago and Albuquerque didn’t seem entirely convinced by this reassurance. 
Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot and New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, both Democrats, said they would only welcome help from federal agents if they actually assisted law enforcement with community policing and public safety.
Both threatened legal action if federal agents were used to crack down on protests, as they have been in Portland.  
“If the Trump administration wishes to antagonise New Mexicans and Americans with authoritarian, unnecessary and unaccountable military-style ‘crackdowns,’ they have no business whatsoever in New Mexico,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. What has been happening in Portland? Since the death of George Floyd in May, Portland has seen almost two months of anti-racism protests. 
In July, Trump sent federal law enforcement officers to the city, vowing to “quell” unrest. 
In the US, HuffPost journalists have reported how federal agents terrorised peaceful protesters, bundling them into unmarked vehicles without probable cause and pulling masks over their faces. 
The actions have alarmed members of Congress, with House majority whip James Clyburn calling it “the activity of a police state”.
Meanwhile, representative Joaquin Castro tweeted: “This is what dictators do.” On Sunday night, dozens of Women – some of whom were reported to be pregnant – formed a human shield against the federal agents outside the city’s courthouse, calling themselves a “wall of moms”. 
Federal agents were filmed using batons and tear gas to try and disperse the women. Why is Donald Trump doing this now? Wondering whether it’s a coincidence that Donald Trump – whose approval rating has plummeted over his handling of the Coronavirus pandemic – has launched a new law and order programme just a few months before he runs for re-election as president? 
According to the Associated Press, the decision to dispatch federal agents to American cities comes at a “hyper-politicised” moment when the Trump is grasping for a new re-election campaign after the Covid-19 pandemic upended the economy.
Trump has already claimed that violence on the streets will worsen if Democratic candidate Joe Biden is elected as president in November. 
But Leon Panetta, a former defence secretary and CIA director, told The Guardian: “One of the last holdouts for tyrants is to try to have the MILITARY be able to protect them, and that fear that he may try to do that raises a lot of concerns about just how far will he go to try to ‘take over’ a lot of these cities and states in terms of their ability to conduct law enforcement on their own.”Related... Biden Claims Trump Is The First Racist President Donald Trump Cries 'Fake News' In Coronavirus Tweet Full Of... Fake News
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