Donald Trump vows to send more federal officers to US cities

Opponents warn of threat to civil liberties as president tries to build ‘law and order’ image

US president Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, July 10th. Photograph: The New York Times

Donald Trump has vowed to send federal officers to several American cities led by Democrats in what critics say is an attempt to play the “law and order” card to boost his bid for re-election.

The president’s threat came after a federal crackdown on anti-racism protests in Portland, Oregon, that involved unmarked cars and unidentified forces in camouflage.

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Monday, Trump identified New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland as places in need of federal agents, describing those cities’ mayors as “liberal Democrats”.

“We’re sending law enforcement,” he said. “We can’t let this happen to the cities.”


Singling out Chicago, where more than 63 people were shot, 12 fatally, over the weekend, Mr Trump pivoted to an attack on his election rival, Joe Biden.


“And you add it up over the summer – this is worse than Afghanistan, by far. This is worse than anything anyone has ever seen. All run by the same liberal Democrats. And you know what? If Biden got in, that would be true for the country. The whole country would go to hell. And we’re not going to let it go to hell.”

Struggling against Biden in the opinion polls, Mr Trump has leaned into a divisive theme reminiscent of his fellow Republican Richard Nixon in 1968.

“I am your president of law and order,” he declared in the White House Rose Garden on June 1st, shortly before park police and national guard troops fired teargas and chased peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square so he could stage a photo op outside a historic church.

Since then he has repeatedly – and falsely – accused Mr Biden of planning to “defund the police” and effectively surrender cities and suburbs to violent criminals. The conservative Fox News network, meanwhile, has been giving emphasis to coverage of inner-city violence rather the coronavirus pandemic.

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said: “He took longer than I thought he would to start emphasising law and order. But I bet he starts at the convention. It’s going to be one of the key themes of the convention. ‘These crazy liberals are causing problems again.’”

The Trump administration sent federal officers into Portland after weeks of protests there over police brutality and racial injustice that followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Last week, videos showed unidentified federal personnel taking people off the street and driving them away in black minivans.

American society

Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, defended the actions in a tweet on Sunday: “Law and Order – a cornerstone of American society – is under siege in Portland.”

On Monday the Chicago Tribune newspaper reported that the Department of Homeland Security is making plans to deploy around 150 agents in the city where police defending a statue clashed with demonstrators on Friday.

Lori Lightfoot, the mayor of Chicago and a Democrat, told the Associated Press: “I have great concerns about that in particular, given the track record in the city of Portland. I have talked to the mayor of Portland... we don’t need federal agents without any insignia taking people off the street and holding them, I think, unlawfully.”

The House committee chairmen Jerry Nadler, Adam Smith and Bennie Thompson said in a joint statement: “The Trump Administration continues to weaponise federal law enforcement for its own agenda. Like we saw in Lafayette, rather than supporting and protecting the American people, we are witnessing the oppression of peaceful protestors by our own government. – Guardian