Jul 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Mayors seek ban on militarized federal agents

Federal police make an arrest as they confront protesters in front of the  federal courthouse in downtown Portland as the city experiences another night of unrest on July 26, 2020 in Portland, Oregon.
Federal police make an arrest as they confront protesters in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Portland, Ore., on Sunday.

Democratic mayors in Portland, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Kansas City and Albuquerque urged congressional leaders in a letter Monday to make it illegal for the federal government to deploy militarized federal agents to cities that oppose such action.

Driving the news: The Trump administration is looking at deploying more federal agents to Portland, Oregon, following unrest during protests over the weekend, according to multiple reports.

  • Federal agents "repeatedly fired what appeared to be tear gas, flash bangs and pepper balls at protesters outside the federal courthouse in downtown in Portland" early Monday after some activists "shot fireworks" and climbed a fence surrounding the building, AP reports.
  • Democratic mayors in Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, Portland, Kansas City, and Washington, D.C., wrote a letter to congressional leaders and the Trump administration last week that accused federal agents of escalating violence against civilians.

What they're saying: In their letter, the mayors criticized the Trump administration for "authorizing the deployment of riot-gear clad forces" to cities including Washington, D.C., Portland, Seattle without local authorities' consent.

  • "This administration's egregious use of federal force on cities over the objections of local authorities should never happen," they added.

The other side: Axios has contacted the Trump administration for comment. President Trump tweeted Monday, "Homeland Security or Federal Forces are little involved in Seattle, other than we have a large standby team in case of emergency. The media is calling that one wrong also. In Portland, we are protecting Federal property, including the Courthouse, which wouldn't last a day!"

  • Attorney General Bill Barr will address the issue of federal agents in cities in opening remarks to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, where he will refer to those involved in unrest during protests as "rioters" and tell lawmakers they should "condemn violence against federal officers and destruction of federal property."

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