Crime on the rise: Trump and Democrats scramble over sending federal agents

(New York) Will Donald Trump send federal police to New York and other Democratic strongholds facing a spike in crime? The standoff is on, especially with his hometown, as the Republican president has made the return of “order” one of his slogans for the November presidential election.

Catherine TRIOMPHE

France Media Agency

The Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, rose up on Tuesday against the threat made the day before by the American president to send federal forces to the American economic capital.

If Mr. Trump sent federal agents, “that would only add to the problems” and “we would immediately take him to court to stop this,” the mayor said at a press briefing.

“This would be another example of the illegal and unconstitutional measures taken by the president”, he added.

The day before, the Democratic mayors of Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Atlanta, Kansas City and the federal capital Washington had sent a letter to the US Minister of Justice, William Barr, and to the director of the Department of National Security , Chad Wolf, to oppose the “unilateral deployment” of federal forces in their cities.

In the United States, the municipalities are in principle in charge of the methods used to deal with crime.

Looking back at the recent dispatch of federal police officers to Portland, Oregon – where officers, in camouflage uniforms and without identification badges, made disputed arrests – the mayors estimated that their interventions had contributed to an “escalation” of tensions, and compared the method to “tactics used by authoritarian regimes”.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi even compared federal agents to “assault units.”

Lax “Leftists” 2020

But the president, much criticized for his management of the pandemic and preceded in the latest polls by his Democratic rival Joe Biden, made the return of “law and order” a campaign slogan, at three months and a half of the presidential election.

His government rejects any accusation of abuse of power: his boss of Homeland Security on Tuesday justified the sending of agents to Portland by the need to protect certain federal buildings in the city targeted for days by the demonstrators .

“If we weren't here, they would burn the building down,” said Chad Wolf. He called the protesters “violent anarchists,” and denounced the inaction of local officials against them.

The subject is promising for the Republican camp, in a context of outbreaks of urban violence in the wake of the demonstrations against the police brutality which followed the death of George Floyd at the end of May.

“We are not going to let down New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore”, declared Donald Trump on Monday, accusing their elected Democrats of lax “radical leftists”.

It is in Chicago, a city with endemic crime where the president has deemed the situation “worse than in Afghanistan”, that federal agents should arrive quickly, according to Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Initially standing up to this possibility, the mayor adopted a more conciliatory tone on Tuesday evening, indicating that she had obtained assurances that federal agents would simply come and reinforce federal agencies already present in the city.

“What I understand is that we will receive additional resources,” said the mayor. “We have information that this will not be a Portland style deployment.”

A new episode of gun violence took place Tuesday in Chicago, where fourteen people were injured in a shooting during a funeral, police said.

A car “began to shoot at funeral participants” who in turn opened fire on the vehicle, said a police official.

After a constant fall since the middle of the years 1990, New York, the city where Donald Trump made his fortune, has also seen crime pick up again this year – especially since June – with shootings and murders up respectively 57% and 21 % since January.

The metropolis has the largest municipal police in the country, with 25 00 0 agents. But many of them have criticized reforms adopted after the “Black Lives Matter” protests to reduce police brutality, and their morale is low, some officials say.

For Mayor Bill de Blasio, Donald Trump's threat to send additional agents could be nothing but a “bluff”. But even if it did, their impact would be “minimal.”

“It would only add pain and confusion, maybe that's what (Mr. Trump) wants,” he said on Tuesday.