Philadelphia’s district attorney on Wednesday decried President Donald Trump’s threats to send federal agents into his city, saying that Trump’s “fluffy” rhetoric about occupying cities “comes out of the fascist playbook.”
Philadelphia is one of a number of cities on which Trump has threatened to sic federal agents, arguing that local Democratic leaders aren’t responding to protesters forcefully enough. Krasner’s response is part of a wave of local officials telling Trump’s flashy federal force to, essentially, keep out.
Federal law enforcement routinely works with local authorities on cases involving things like drugs and gun offenses, Krasner told Bloomberg CityLab Wednesday.
But, he said, “what’s unusual here is the fluffy rhetoric about taking over cities.”
“What’s unusual is the politicization of a normal relationship between federal law enforcement and local law enforcement. And what is really unusual is the apparently illegal Stormtrooper tactics that have been used by federal law enforcement in Portland.”
In Portland, local officials have urged federal agents to leave after on-the-ground footage showed them teargassing and detaining non-violent demonstrators while wearing camouflage fatigues with little identifying information. (At a press conference Tuesday night, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said of Portland authorities, “If you did your job from a local perspective, we wouldn’t be there.”)
In a lawsuit Friday, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said “state law enforcement officers are not being consulted or coordinated with on these federal detentions” — leading to local police potentially wasting time on kidnapping calls “when federal agents snatch people walking through downtown Portland without explanation or identification.”
Krasner raised similar concerns.
“It is not OK when there is no probable cause to jump out of a rental van and just requisition people off the street,” Krasner told Bloomberg. “That looks like a dictatorship. That looks like a kidnapping. That looks like a crime.”
It may not end in Portand: Recent reports have indicated that DHS may send around 150 ICE agents to Chicago in coming days, though the department has not clarified its plans publicly.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was one of six mayors who wrote to the administration on Monday comparing the scene in Portland to “authoritarian regimes.”
And in a separate letter to the President Monday, Lightfoot urged Trump to focus federal efforts on gun reform and community investment, rather than sending federal agents whose presence she said “would foment a massive wave of opposition.” (Read the full letter below.)
Krasner on Wednesday repeatedly referred to the federal deployment in Portland — and Trump’s threat to take the show national — as a political stunt.
“We’re dealing with a shiny object that the president is waving around to distract from his outrageous failures in many other areas,” he said. “And to try to use his usual tactics of neo-fascist division, hate, and racism to improve his almost deceased campaign.”
“This is fluff,” he added separately. “This is politics. This has nothing to do with actual law enforcement. It is a diversion of tax funds to try to bolster a campaign that is close to defunct.”
The D.A. said Monday that he wouldn’t hesitate to charge “anyone, including federal law enforcement, who unlawfully assaults and kidnaps people.”
Tom Ridge, who was elected twice as Pennsylvania’s Republican governor and went on to be the first secretary of Homeland Security in 2003, struck a similar tone the following day.
DHS, Ridge told SiriusXM’s Michael Smerconish, “was not established to be the president’s personal militia.”
“It’d be a cold day in hell before I would consent to a unilateral, uninvited intervention in one of my cities.”
Krasner also highlighted the racial dynamics at play: Trump has repeatedly vilified the Black and Latino leadership of major cities.
“He has an agenda,” the D.A. said. “It is a strictly political, racist, divisive, fear-based fictional agenda. All of this stuff comes out of the fascist playbook. All this stuff comes out of the white supremacist playbook. ”
Read Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s letter to the President: