By Erika Shannon
July 28, 2020
The Trump Administration has announced a plan to deploy federal agents to several American cities as a part of “Operation Legend” and the so-called “Protecting American Communities Task Force.” The federal agents started being deployed as early as June as a rejoinder to the George Floyd protests. Trump’s claim is that he wants to help curb street violence; violence that he says is worsened by anti-police policies. Chicago is at the forefront of the cities that the Trump Administration has their eyes on. The plan is to send 150 federal agents to Chicago as part of an urban crime fighting strategy. There is debate as to whether or not these federal agents will act as “secret police” in the city, but Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot says she does not want the agents in Chicago to be utilized in the same way that agents deployed to Portland this month were. These federal agents have been sent to predominantly left-leaning cities, with Trump claiming they have spiraled out of control due to Democratic leadership. The Department of Homeland Security has cited an executive order regarding monuments, memorials, and statues that would allow deployment of federal troops to individual US states without their permission.
There is no doubt that Chicago needs help with their street violence issue. This past weekend in Chicago, 51 people were shot and 3 of those people succumbed to their wounds. It is a pattern that repeats most weekends in the Windy City.
The real solution is not rooted in sending “secret police” to sweep protestors into unmarked vans or to engage in violence against demonstrators. The overwhelming feeling in Chicago is that militarizing communities does not make them safer to live in and is not guaranteed to help curb gun violence. Many believe that this is an authoritarian show of power by President Trump, and lawsuits have been filed in several cities, including Chicago. Several community organizations such as Black Lives Matter Chicago, GoodKids MadCity, and National Lawyers Guild Chicago have already filed suit, hoping to get the federal agents to back off. These organizations condemn the use of federal agents as “secret police,” and there is fear that these federal agents will interfere with lawful protests or arrest people with no probable cause that they have committed a federal crime. Using federal agents to secretly arrest people and put them into unmarked vans is a scare tactic that people are not taking lightly, in Chicago or elsewhere. Trump is trying to make a point that he is in control with the upcoming election. This move will only cause tensions, that are already high, to continue rising.
- Black Lives Matter Chicago is an organization that is volunteer-run and fights for justice in Chicago. They work to end state violence and criminalization of Black communities
- First Defense Legal Aid is an organization that will send an attorney to anybody being held by the Chicago Police or other Cook County Police Departments. They mobilize attorneys to help with public defense
- The #LetUsBreathe Collective is an alliance of artists and activists that organize through a creative lens to imagine a world without prisons a