Nation’s Mayors Tell Trump to Keep Federal Forces Out

 (WASHINGTON, DC) – Mayor Muriel Bowser and mayors across the country called on the Trump administration to immediately halt plans to send federal forces from major American cities and withdraw any forces currently in cities.

In addition, the mayors called on Congressional leadership to launch an investigation into the administration’s actions to unilaterally deploy and threaten to deploy paramilitary-type forces into American cities.

The mayors’ full letters to the Trump administration and to Congressional leadership are below.


The Honorable William Barr

Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

Washington, DC 20530

 

The Honorable Chad Wolf

Acting Secretary

Department of Homeland Security

Washington, DC 20528

 

Dear Attorney General Barr and Acting Secretary Wolf:

 

We write to express our deep concern and objection to the deployment of federal forces in our cities, as those forces are conducting law enforcement activities without coordination or authorization of local law enforcement officials.

 

The unilateral deployment of these forces into American cities is unprecedented and violates fundamental constitutional protections and tenets of federalism. As you are well aware, President Trump threatened to deploy federal forces in Seattle to “clear out” a protest area and in Chicago to “clean up” the city. Seattle and Chicago authorities objected and threatened legal action to stop such actions. In Washington, DC outside Lafayette Park, extreme action was taken by federal law enforcement against protesters without the Mayor of DC’s approval. Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli said in recent days that the administration intends “to continue not just in Portland but in any of the facilities that we’re responsible for around the country.” This abuse of power cannot continue.

 

Deployment of federal forces in the streets of our communities has not been requested nor is it acceptable. While U.S. Marshals have had jurisdiction inside federal courthouses for decades, it is unacceptable and chilling that this administration has formed and deployed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Rapid Deployment Unit and is sending federal authorities to conduct crowd control on city streets and detain individuals. In Portland, their actions have escalated events and increased the risk of violence against both civilians and local law enforcement officers.

 

In Portland, federal forces have used significant force against protesters on a nightly basis, including shooting one individual in the head with a munition, reportedly fracturing his skull. Others “snatched” an individual from the street without proper identification and placed him in an unmarked vehicle. These are tactics we expect from authoritarian regimes – not our democracy.

 

In many of our cities, our communities have expectations for law enforcement, including identification of officers, training, and recorded body camera footage, among many other expectations and policies. These expectations are being blatantly disregarded by federal forces. In most cities, there is also independent oversight of use of force policies and officers who act outside of policy. Federal officers have not been trained for urban community policing, including critical crowd management and de-escalation techniques. There is no oversight of the actions of federal forces. Importantly, in Portland they do not even appear to be complying with a federal court order regarding the use of tear gas and other crowd control tools. These actions also jeopardize the many important ways federal and local law enforcement must work together to protect our cities and country.

 

Furthermore, it is concerning that federal law enforcement is being deployed for political purposes. The President and his administration continually attack local leadership and amplify false and divisive rhetoric purely for campaign fodder. Their words and actions have created an environment of fear and mistrust.

 

We are a nation of laws and fundamental constitutional guarantees. The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked a national uprising and reckoning. Millions have joined protests and exercised their constitutional rights. The majority of the protests have been peaceful and aimed at improving our communities. Where this is not the case, it still does not justify the use of federal forces. Unilaterally deploying these paramilitary-type forces into our cities is wholly inconsistent with our system of democracy and our most basic values.

 

Cities across America are battling unprecedented challenges: the continued threat of COVID-19, economic devastation, and a new civil rights movement. Mayors are on the frontlines of solving these challenges. We need the help of our federal government, and we have urged a range of actions to battle COVID-19, provide relief to our workers, businesses, and cities, and institute more just policing in America. But the irresponsible actions of your agencies threaten community safety and progress on policing in our communities.

 

We urge you to take immediate action to withdraw your forces and agree to no further unilateral

deployments in our cities.

 

Regards,

 

Jenny A. Durkan

Mayor of Seattle, WA

 

Ted Wheeler

Mayor of Portland, OR

 

Keisha Lance Bottoms

Mayor of Atlanta, GA

 

Lori Lightfoot

Mayor of Chicago, IL

 

Muriel Bowser

Mayor of Washington, DC

 

Quinton D. Lucas

Mayor of Kansas City, MO

 

Martin J. Walsh

Mayor of Boston, MA

 

Jim Kenney

Mayor of Philadelphia, PA

 

Michael Hancock

Mayor of Denver, CO

 

Eric Garcetti

Mayor of Los Angeles, CA

 

Sam Liccardo

Mayor of San Jose, CA

 

Libby Schaaf

Mayor of Oakland, CA

 

Regina Romero

Mayor of Tucson, AZ

 

Darrell Steinberg

Mayor of Sacramento, CA

 

Kate Gallego

Mayor of Phoenix, AZ

 

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi

Speaker

United States House of Representatives

1236 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

 

The Honorable Mitch McConnell

Majority Leader

United States Senate

317 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

 

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy

Minority Leader

2468 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

 

The Honorable Chuck Schumer

Minority Leader

United States Senate

322 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy and Leader Schumer:

 

We write to express our deep concern and objection to the use of federal forces in U.S. cities. These forces are conducting crowd control on city streets and detaining individuals. Their threats and actions have as escalated events, and increased the risk of violence against both civilians and local law enforcement officers. These actions also jeopardize the many important ways federal and local law enforcement must work together to protect our cities and country. We urge you to immediately investigate the President and his administration’s actions.

The unilateral deployment of these forces into American cities is unprecedented and violates fundamental constitutional protections and tenets of federalism. As you are well aware, President Trump threatened to deploy federal forces in Seattle to “clear out” a protest area and in Chicago to “clean up” the city. Seattle and Chicago authorities objected and threatened legal action to stop such actions. In Washington, DC outside Lafayette Park, extreme action was taken by federal law enforcement against protesters without the Mayor of DC’s approval.

 

Now the administration has deployed federal forces to Portland despite the objections of local and state officials. This includes, but is not limited to, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a newly launched U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unit, U.S. Marshals Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, and DHS’s Federal Protective Service. None of these agents are trained in modern urban community policing, such as de-escalation. They are operating without coordination with local law enforcement, and their actions have escalated events, leading to more violence and unrest. Importantly, in Portland they do not even appear to be complying with a federal court order regarding the use of tear gas and other crowd control tools.

 

The administration’s deployment of federal forces shows a shocking disregard for the legitimate use of our U.S. military and federal resources, as well as the authority of local law enforcement. We are a nation of laws and fundamental constitutional guarantees.

 

The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked a national uprising and reckoning. Millions have joined protests and exercised their constitutional rights. The majority of the protests have been peaceful and are aimed at improving our communities. Even in circumstances where this is not the case, it is still a matter for 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.

 

Cities across America are battling unprecedented challenges: the continued threat of COVID-19, economic devastation, and a new civil rights movement. We need the help of our federal government, and we have urged a range of actions to battle COVID-19, provide relief to our workers, businesses, and cities, and institute more just policing in America. But the President and his administration have demonstrated little interest in engaging with our communities in meaningful ways to address these challenges. Instead, he is politicizing conflict, creating an environment of fear and mistrust, and raising the prospect of more deployments of federal forces in cities like Seattle, Chicago, and other American communities. This abuse of power cannot continue.

 

The American people have a right to understand the circumstances under which federal action has been authorized and taken in American cities. We urge you to investigate these actions immediately.

 

Respectfully,

 

Jenny A. Durkan

Mayor of Seattle, WA

 

Ted Wheeler

Mayor of Portland, OR

 

Keisha Lance Bottoms

Mayor of Atlanta, GA

 

Lori Lightfoot

Mayor of Chicago, IL

 

Muriel Bowser

Mayor of Washington, DC

 

Quinton D. Lucas

Mayor of Kansas City, MO

 

Martin J. Walsh

Mayor of Boston, MA

 

Jim Kenney

Mayor of Philadelphia, PA

 

Michael Hancock

Mayor of Denver, CO

 

Eric Garcetti

Mayor of Los Angeles, CA

 

Sam Liccardo

Mayor of San Jose, CA

 

Libby Schaaf

Mayor of Oakland, CA

 

Regina Romero

Mayor of Tucson, AZ

 

Kate Gallego

Mayor of Phoenix, AZ

 

Darrell Steinberg

Mayor of Sacramento, CA