Trump Sends More Than 100 Federal Agents to Chicago to Fight Violence

Video: Chicago aldermen discuss gun violence on “Chicago Tonight.” With Alds. Matt Martin (47th Ward), Gilbert Villegas (36th Ward), Maria Hadden (49th Ward) and Harry Osterman (48th Ward). Watch part two of our discussion here.

President Donald Trump will send “more than 100” federal agents to crack down on surging crime in Chicago — but will not order a Portland-style paramilitary strike force to patrol the city.

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Agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will “help state and local officials fight high levels of violent crime, particularly gun violence,” according to a statement from John Lausch, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

Speaking from the White House, Trump once again blasted Chicago leaders for allowing a “shocking explosion … of heinous crimes of violence” to take place. The president decried the shooting of 15 people outside a Gresham neighborhood funeral home Tuesday evening as an example of the “absolute insanity” taking place in Chicago.

“Perhaps no citizens have suffered more from the menace of violent crime than the wonderful people of Chicago,” Trump said.

Federal officials offered no timeline for the deployment of the additional agents, nor did they say how long they would be assigned to Chicago.

Without evidence, Trump blamed Chicago’s status as a sanctuary city — which prohibits Chicago police from working with federal agents on most immigration-related issues — for the surge in crime. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Chicago would continue to protect undocumented immigrants regardless of the president’s criticism.

Attorney General Bill Barr and Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf took pains to separate the effort, dubbed “Operation Legend” after a 4-year-old boy who was killed in Kansas City, Missouri, from what has happened in Portland, Oregon, where unidentified federal agents have used tear gas and other weapons to disperse protesters near a federal courthouse and arrested demonstrators without clear probable cause.

Barr said the agents will engage in “classic crime fighting” in Chicago, Kansas City and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

What happened in Portland was an “unconstitutional travesty” and “undemocratic,” Lightfoot said, calling it an example of “tyranny and dictatorship.”

Lightfoot warned Trump in a letter sent late Monday that a decision to send troops or agents to Chicago under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security would “foment a wave massive wave of opposition.”

“I’m glad to see the president got the message,” Lightfoot said Wednesday. 

However, if Trump or his administration change their minds and seek to replicate what is happening in Portland in Chicago, the city is prepared to oppose those orders in court, Lightfoot said.

Once again, Lightfoot asked residents to contact her office, call 911 and call their aldermen if they see evidence of federal agents in Chicago.

“We are going to remain diligent,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said it was “routine” for federal agents to assist Chicago police officers.

The mayor said she was confident that Lausch, a former colleague in the federal prosecutor’s office, would properly oversee the additional agents.

Lightfoot called the president’s announcement at the White House a “political stunt” and accused him of targeting cities that have Democratic mayors who are women.

“The president is trying to divert attention from his failed leadership on COVID-19,” Lightfoot said. “He has failed, he has failed, he has failed.”

Trump is not actually interested in helping Chicago fight violence, Lightfoot said.

“If he cared about Chicago, there are meaningful ways that the president actually could help,” Lightfoot said. “Instead, it is denigrate, divide and disparage.”

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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