Six big city mayors wrote to the Trump administration and Congress on Monday objecting to the unsolicited deployment of federal forces in their cities — which they said was political and reminiscent of authoritarian regimes.
In a letter to the attorney general and acting Homeland Security secretary, the mayors of Portland, Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Kansas City said the “unilateral” deployment was unprecedented and unconstitutional.
“This abuse of power cannot continue,” the mayors wrote.
Portland has been the scene of a dramatic federal police presence in recent days: Federal agents have detained demonstrators in unmarked cars, beaten protesters and used teargas on crowds. One man was shot in the head with a “less-lethal” munition, resulting in serious injury.
Administration sources have told reporters that around 150 ICE agents could soon be on their way to Chicago as part of a vaguely defined crime-fighting mission. Federal forces in D.C. caused a national uproar just weeks ago during demonstrations in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. The President has spoken openly about sending federal forces to other cities despite local objections.
Citing the scene in Portland, the mayors wrote that they’d expect the feds’ tactics “from authoritarian regimes — not our democracy.”
The letter slammed the lack of oversight and training for the federal forces, “including critical crowd management and deescalation techniques,” and said the deployments hadn’t been requested in the first place.
“Furthermore, it is concerning that federal law enforcement is being deployed for political purposes,” the mayors wrote, adding: “We urge you to take immediate action to withdraw your forces and agree to no further unilateral deployments in our cities.”
Today, Mayors from around the country took a stand against unilateral federal intervention in our cities, calling for immediate removal of the President’s “Rapid Deployment Unit” squads and for a congressional investigation of their unconstitutional terror tactics. pic.twitter.com/akgHn7hPWz
— Mayor Ted Wheeler (@tedwheeler) July 20, 2020
In a separate letter to congressional leadership, the mayors said the federal deployments showed “a shocking disregard for the legitimate use of our U.S. military and federal resources, as well as the authority of local law enforcement.”
“The President’s decision to unilaterally deploy these paramilitary type forces into our cities mirrors the very tyranny our country has fought against and is wholly inconsistent with our democracy,” they wrote, urging congressional investigation.
“This abuse of power cannot continue,” the mayors said.