21 Jul 2020

Portland protests: Trump threatens to send officers to more US cities

3:12 pm on 21 July 2020

US President Donald Trump has threatened to send more federal law enforcement officers to major US cities to control ongoing protests.

US President Donald Trump delivers a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 14, 2020.

US President Donald Trump said he will send in more federal officers to cities like Portland, that have had ongoing protests in recent days, if the situation isn't brought under control. Photo: AFP / Jim Watson

Trump criticised a number of cities run by "liberal Democrats", including Chicago and New York, saying their leaders were afraid to act.

He said officers sent to Oregon had done a "fantastic job" restoring order amid days of protests in Portland.

Local officials say the federal officers are making matters worse.

State leaders have demanded Trump remove the personnel from Portland, accusing him of escalating the situation as a political stunt in an election year.

Speaking at the White House on Monday, Trump reiterated his call for law and order.

"We're sending law enforcement," he told reporters. "We can't let this happen to the cities."

He specifically named New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland in discussing problems with violence.

"We're not going to let this happen in our country, all run by liberal Democrats."

Trump also praised the controversial federal law enforcement efforts in Portland. The city has seen ongoing protests against police brutality in the city since the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minnesota in May.

Trump deployed the personnel to the US west coast city two weeks ago to quell the civil unrest.

He also praised controversial federal law enforcement efforts in the city.

Some officers have used unmarked cars and worn military-style camouflage on the streets, sparking condemnation from Democrats and activists. In the past week, tensions between protesters and these officers has escalated, and local leaders have called for the federal personnel to leave the city.

Trump said Oregon's governor, Portland's mayor and other state lawmakers were scared of the "anarchists".

"They're afraid of these people," he said. "That's the reason they don't want us to help them."

He added: "[Federal officers] have been there three days and they really have done a fantastic job in a very short period of time, no problem. They grab a lot of people and jail the leaders. These are anarchists."

The officers are part of a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unit made up of people from the US Marshals Service and Customs and Border Protection.

They have been deployed under an executive order protecting statues, signed by Trump last month. That order allows federal officers to be deployed without the permission of individual US states.

DHS is also planning to deploy some 150 agents to Chicago this week, the Chicago Tribune reported on Monday. The agents will reportedly assist other federal law enforcement officers and Chicago police in fighting crime.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot had earlier said she was concerned about Trump deploying federal officers to the city. She said she had spoken with Portland's mayor on Sunday "to get a sense of what's happened there".

"We don't need federal agents without any insignia taking people off the streets and holding them, I think, unlawfully," Lightfoot said.

Speaking to CNN on Sunday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said there were "dozens if not hundreds of federal troops" in the city.

"Their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism," he said. "They're not wanted here. We haven't asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave."

Oregon's attorney general has filed a lawsuit against the federal government for allegedly unlawfully detaining protesters and violating their constitutional rights of assembly and due process.


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