President Trump on Monday said he would send law enforcement to more U.S. cities, as a federal crackdown on anti-racism protests in Oregon with unmarked cars and unidentified forces in camouflage angered people across the country.
Trump, a Republican, cited New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland as places to send federal agents, noting the cities’ mayors were “liberal Democrats.” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot frequently blasts Trump on Twitter.
“We’re sending law enforcement,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We can’t let this happen to the cities.”
State and local leaders in Oregon, as well as members of Congress, have called for Trump to remove Department of Homeland Security paramilitary forces from Portland, after videos showed unidentified federal personnel taking people off the street and whisking them away in black minivans.
“Not only do I believe he is breaking the law, but he is also endangering the lives of Portlanders,” the city’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, tweeted, having previously called the federal presence “political theater” in an election year.
Another video showed federal agents beating and spraying chemicals on a Navy veteran protester on Saturday, the man lauded as an “anti-fascist super-soldier” on social media for standing passively as he took the blows.
Federal forces last week began cracking down on Portland protests against police brutality and systemic racism, using tear gas to defend federal buildings and taking some activists into custody without explanation.
“They grab a lot of people and jail the leaders. These are anarchists,” Trump said of federal agents sent to the historically liberal city to quell often unruly protests.
Despite a national outcry over the tactics, Department of Homeland Security officials on Monday said they would not back down and would not apologize.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Homeland Security was making plans to deploy around 150 agents in the city where police defending a statue clashed with protesters on Friday.
Anti-racism demonstrations began across the United States after the police killing of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May.