Mayors Spurn Portland-Style Forces; Trump to Speak: Protest Wrap
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump will speak at the White House Wednesday on “combating violent crime in American cities,” as mayors across the country warn they will resist if the administration tries to do in their cities what it has in Portland, Oregon.
Trump’s push for federal agents in cities gripped by protests and spikes in crime is a policy that appeals to his base ahead of the election, and one he has said could expand to other major cities. In Portland, pitched battles have erupted between federal agents and protesters, prompting state officials to sue the Trump administration -- yet the president remained undeterred.
Trump will speak on the issue of at 3:15 p.m. local time on Wednesday, the White House said, delivering remarks in the East Room.
Mayors in big cities are pushing back. The Trump administration’s “deployment of federal forces in the streets of our communities has not been requested nor is it acceptable,” more than a dozen mayors said in a joint letter. The group, including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Muriel Bowser in Washington D.C., Keisha Lance Bottoms in Atlanta, Jenny Durkan in Seattle, Marty Walsh in Boston and Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot, said the deployments were being made “for political purposes.” In a separate letter, they called for a congressional investigation.
The Justice Department plans to announce an expansion of Operation Legend to Chicago, according to an administration official. The program is a standard law enforcement approach, in which more federal agents are sent to a city to work in cooperation with local law enforcement to fight violent crime. More than a dozen people were injured in a shooting outside a funeral home on Chicago’s South Side late Tuesday, the latest incident as violence in several big cities has risen this year.
The U.S. Homeland Security Department defended its actions in Portland, pledging to stay and defend a federal courthouse despite objections from local leaders that they’re exacerbating the situation. Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and other officials held a briefing Tuesday defending the ramp-up in staffing, the use of unmarked cars and military-style camouflage and the summoning of border guards.
Earlier Tuesday, the White House threatened to veto the House defense policy bill over provisions that present “serious concerns,” including a requirement to rename military bases that honor Confederate generals. Trump has decried the nationwide effort to remove Confederate symbols seen by some as emblems of white supremacy. The bill requires the military to start rooting out racism.
The House, which is controlled by Democrats, will vote Wednesday on a measure to remove from view statues of Confederate figures in the U.S. Capitol. As the Confederates fall away, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to increase the number of women honored in the halls of Congress.
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