Trump accused of deploying ‘secret police’ as a part of ‘authoritarian’ legislation enforcement surge

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Trump accused of deploying 'secret police' as part of 'authoritarian' law enforcement surge

American presidents generally don't try to invade their own country.




© Gillian Flaccus / AP
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler speaks to demonstrators in the city on July 22

This is exactly what local officials say Donald Trump plans to send hundreds of federal law enforcement officers to Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico. "Donald Trump's troops" must "not terrorize our residents," warned Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Albuquerque leaders say they don't need "Trump's secret police".

However, the president says he is only trying to suppress street violence – which he believes has been encouraged by the anti-police policies of radical democratic leaders. "This bloodshed must stop," he said on Wednesday.

The federal government has the power to dispatch its own law enforcement officers against the will of local officials. This happens more often with their consent. And Chicago has a problem. Last weekend, 63 people were shot dead in the Windy City, 12 fatally. 15 people who mourned the victim of a drive-by murder were wounded in another killing spree on Tuesday.

Trump believes he has set a trap: If Democrats complain, he will describe them as crime-friendly. And he uses the heartbreaking stories of crossfire deaths in the city to tell key voters – women and suburbs – that he's the only president who can protect them. But the causes of violent crimes are deeply complex and have defied political leaders for years. Drug wars, poverty, lack of social mobility, underinvestment in disadvantaged communities and a flood of legal and illegal firearms are often cited by crime-fighting activists.

Federal officials destined for Chicago and Albuquerque have a different mission than the disguised, unidentified federal forces that were filmed recently as they pulled demonstrators off the streets of Portland, Oregon. But after these scenes, Trump's new initiative is unlikely to raise any doubts as his "law and order" election message takes on an authoritarian glimmer.

"Authoritarian" tactics

More than a dozen mayors want the Trump administration to remove federal forces from their cities or to stop upcoming operations. This emerges from a letter sent to the heads of the Justice and Homeland Security departments on Monday and signed by the Mayors of Portland. Seattle; Atlanta; Chicago; Washington; Boston; Philadelphia; Denver; Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Jose and Oakland, California; Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona; and Kansas City, Missouri.

"The one-sided use of these forces in American cities is unprecedented and violates fundamental constitutional protections and principles of federalism," wrote the mayor. Unlike local law enforcement officials, federal officials dealing with protests or crimes are hardly accountable to the communities they control.

The mayors cited federal forces deployed in Portland, Oregon, claiming they "pulled" a person off the street without identification, and put them in an unmarked vehicle. "These are tactics that we expect from authoritarian regimes – not from our democracy," wrote the mayor.

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