CHICAGO – The war of words between Chicago’s mayor and President Donald Trump escalated after a weekend when 12 were killed in the city and dozens injured by gunfire, with Lori Lightfoot rejecting any suggestion federal law enforcement officers should be dispatched to the city and Trump all but promising to send them.
In a letter sent to the president on Monday, Lightfoot said the deployment of secret, federal agents who "arrest, and detain residents without any cause” is a bad idea and urged the president not to do it.
Lightfoot, a frequent Trump critic, slammed the president in the letter for "unhelpful” rhetoric and detailed ways the federal government could help the city to reduce violence, including gun safety reform, public safety support, community outreach and community investment.
The Department of Homeland Security was planning to deploy about 150 Homeland Security Investigations agents to Chicago, according to an official with direct knowledge of the plans who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. Those agents generally do lengthy investigations into human trafficking, drugs and weapons smuggling and child exploitation, but they have also been deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border during the height of the crisis there to help.
The Trump administration sent federal officers in Portland, Oregon, after weeks of protests there over police brutality and racial injustice that followed the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Oregon’s governor and Portland’s mayor have expressed anger with the presence of the federal agents, saying that the city’s protests had started to ease just as the federal agents started taking action.
However, Trump, framing such protests in the nation’s large cities as a failure by “liberal Democrats” who run them, praised the officers’ actions and said he was looking to send agents to other cities.
He pointed to rising gun violence in Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city, where more than 63 people were shot, 12 fatally, over the weekend.
“How about Chicago? Would you say they need help after this weekend?” Trump told reporters at the White House. “You know the numbers that you hear, the numbers? Many, many shot. Many, many killed.”