CHICAGO — President Donald Trump has again threatened to send federal agents to Chicago, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday fired off a letter urging him to back down.
Trump’s threats come at the same time as federal agents are conducting shadowy operations in Portland, Oregon. Reportedly, the agents have been driving in unmarked cars and grabbing protesters off the streets to detain them without explanation.
“What we do not need, and what will certainly make our community less safe is secret, federal agents deployed to Chicago,” Lightfoot wrote in the four-page letter. “Any other form of militarized assistance within our borders that would not be within our control or within the direct command of the Chicago Police Department would spell disaster.”
Read the letter:
The Tribune reported Trump could send dozens of Department of Homeland Security agents to Chicago as soon as this week. The Chicago Sun-Times also reported on the president’s plans to deploy federal forces to the city.
A New York Times reporter, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, tweeted he confirmed those reports and was told 150 agents will be sent to Chicago for at least 60 days, with more federal agents “expected to be deployed.”
For much of his presidency, Trump has made unrealized pledges to deploy federal troops to the city, promising crackdowns on daily crime and mass arrests of undocumented immigrants.
At an unrelated press conference Monday, Lightfoot shot down Trump’s latest threat, saying she has “great concerns” about federal agents coming to Chicago, especially in light of what’s happening in Portland.
Lightfoot said she spoke to the mayor of Portland on Sunday to learn what’s happening there, and she doesn’t want “federal agents without any insignia taking people [in Chicago] off the streets and holding them … unlawfully.”
Lightfoot said Trump’s administration could instead help Chicago by focusing on getting illegal guns off the streets. The president could fund the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Chicago, fund prosecutors and empower the ATF to go after illegal gun sales and dealers who are knowingly selling to straw buyers.
But just an hour later, at another press conference, Police Supt. David Brown was asked about the federal agents and he said he doesn’t “do politics” but would welcome “any and all help.”
“We’ve made numerous requests [for help], particularly in our efforts to address the mid- and upper-level criminal networks, drug and gang networks,” Brown said.
Lightfoot fired back at the president Monday afternoon with a more detailed letter, urging Trump to stop his “misplaced and incendiary rhetoric.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois said in an emailed statement the organization “will hold the Trump administration and any such federal forces accountable for unconstitutional actions.”
“This is a fight to save our democracy against a reckless administration bent on terrorizing our communities and endangering lives,” according to the ACLU’s statement.
News of the administration’s potential plans to send in federal agents prompted a large protest, again centering around the Christopher Columbus statue Monday in Grant Park. Activists demanded federal authorities stay out of the city and renewed demands for Lightfoot to remove the statue.
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