Chicago Violence

Trump Announces ‘Surge' of Hundreds of Federal Agents Being Sent to Chicago

The move was expected after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot confirmed Tuesday that federal agents were being sent to the city

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he will send a "surge" of federal agents to Chicago as part of a plan to combat "violent crime."

"Frankly, we have no choice," he said during a speech from the White House Wednesday, announcing that the Department of Justice will send hundreds of agents from the DEA, ATF, U.S. Marshals Service, Department of Homeland Security and FBI to the city to "help drive down violent crime."

The move is part of the so-called "Operation Legend," which was launched in Kansas City, Missouri earlier this year, Trump said. Agents will also be deployed to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

"Perhaps no citizens have suffered more from the menace of violent crime than the wonderful people of Chicago," Trump said.

The announcement wasn't unexpected as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot confirmed Tuesday that federal agents were being sent to the city. So far, she said, the city doesn't "see a Portland-style deployment coming" and as of now, the Trump administration will not be deploying "unnamed agents" to Chicago's streets.

"It's too soon to be able to say if this is a value add or not," she said following Trump's announcement Wednesday.

Trump's remarks come less than 24 hours after Chicago saw a mass shooting at a funeral that left 15 people wounded. Hours later, a 3-year-old girl was shot in the head while riding in her family's car in the city's South Shore neighborhood.

"Chicago, help is on its way," Trump said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks hours after a shootout at a funeral in Chicago left 15 people wounded.

Speculation first began after Trump tweeted over the weekend what some took as a veiled comment that federal help could be sent to multiple cities, including Chicago.

"Look at Portland, where the pols are just fine with 50 days of anarchy," he tweeted. "We sent in help. Look at New York, Chicago, Philadelphia. NO!"

The Trump administration deployed militarized federal agents to Portland despite protests from local officials.

The mayor of Portland demanded Friday that Trump remove the agents after some detained people on streets far from federal property they were sent to protect. The ACLU of Oregon said the federal agents appear to be violating people's rights, which “should concern everyone in the United States.”

Lightfoot said she had "great concerns" following Trump's tweet and sent a letter to the president Monday, blasting his "unhelpful" rhetoric and outlining ways she believes the federal government can help Chicago reduce violence.

"Such a deployment of secret, federal agents who arrest, and detain residents without any cause and them deprive those residents of due process is clearly unconstitutional," Lightfoot said in her letter. "It is a bad idea and I urge you not to do it."

According to Lightfoot, one major difference between what is now expected in Chicago and the deployment that made headlines in Portland is that agents being sent to the city will be in contact with and partially managed by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch.

"In Portland they ignored the U.S. Attorney, put these agents on the street and I don't think anyone can quibble with the fact that what happened was not only unconstitutional, it was undemocratic," Lightfoot said at the start of an unrelated press conference Tuesday. "I've been very clear that we welcome actual partnership but we do not welcome dictatorship, we do not welcome authoritarianism and we do not welcome unconstitutional arrest and detainment of our residents. That is something we will not tolerate."

Lausch, who was at Trump's announcement Wednesday, said in a statement the additional federal resources will "assist our office and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to increase prosecutions of trigger-pullers, drug traffickers, carjackers, and those who illegally traffic, use, and possess firearms."

“We will use these new resources and every other available federal law enforcement tool to reduce the unacceptable level of violent crime in Chicago,” his statement read.

She noted, however, that she is "not naive" and the city will be ready should plans change.

"You can't put anything past the Trump Administration," she said Tuesday.

"We've made numerous requests for titularly in our efforts to address the mid level and upper level criminal networks, drug and gang networks and we have great relationships with our local federal partners and we hope to continue that to address some of the things that are happening," Supt. David Brown said during a press conference Monday.

More than 60 people were shot in gun violence across Chicago over the weekend. At the same time, clashes near the Christopher Columbus statue in the popular Grant Park resulted in 49 officers being injured and a dozen individuals being arrested, according to Chicago police officials.

Four protesters were also hurt during the confrontation, which led local elected officials and activists to condemn the officers’ tactics.

Chicago officials cited "vigilantes" who infiltrated protests with sparking much of the violence that erupted at an otherwise peaceful event. Police also said the demonstrations forced the department to "divert precious resources" to the large gatherings instead of working toward "deterring violence."

Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara also wrote a letter to the president asking for federal help in addressing violence in the city.

The statue of Christopher Columbus at Chicago's Grant Park was vandalized following a Friday night Black Lives Matter protest.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to send in federal assets to help combat violence, even recently penning a letter to Lightfoot and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in June, criticizing them for a “lack of leadership” in addressing violence.

“Your lack of leadership on this important issue continues to fail the people you have sworn to protect,” he said. “I am concerned it is another example of your lack of commitment to the vulnerable citizens who are the victims of this violence and a lack of respect for the men and women in law enforcement.”

Lightfoot blasted the letter as a “litany of nonsense,” calling for the president to push for meaningful actions to address violence, including gun reform legislation.

Contact Us