Trump threatens to send officers to more US cities

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Trump threatens to send officers to more US cities
Trump threatens to send officers to more US cities.

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

Mr Trump on Monday 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.

Democrats accuse Mr Trump of trying to rally his Conservative base.

President Trump, a Republican, has been trailing in opinion polls behind his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, ahead of November’s election.

Last month, Mr Trump declared himself the “president of law and order” in the wake of widespread protests over the death in police custody of African-American man George Floyd.

What has Trump said?

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

Media captionPortland protests: Calls for federal troops to leave US city

“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.”

Mr Trump also praised the controversial federal law enforcement efforts in Portland. The city has seen protests against police brutality since George Floyd’s death in Minnesota in May.

What’s the background?

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

Some officers have used unmarked cars and worn military-style camouflage on the streets, sparking condemnation from Democrats and activists.

Local officials say the federal officers are making matters worse and have called for them to leave.

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

A group of mothers stands between protesters and federal officers in PortlandImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionA group of mothers stood between protesters and federal officers in Portland

But Mr 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.”

Where are the officers from?

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 Mr 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.

The president has long accused Chicago’s leaders of failing to control violent crime in the Illinois city, where just last weekend police said 64 people were shot, 11 fatally.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot had earlier said she was concerned about Mr 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,” Ms Lightfoot said.

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.