The move is part of Operation Legend, which was named after four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while he was sleeping at his home. The operation is being carried out by the Department of Justice to keep violent crime under control throughout the nation.
According to Trump, hundreds of law enforcement agents from the U.S. Marshals Service, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will be sent to the selected cities to reduce crime, particularly gun violence.
One city that has seen a significant rise in violent crime recently is Chicago. So far, 414 people have been murdered in the city this year, marking a 50 percent rise over the same time period last year. On the weekend of July 17 alone, more than 60 people were shot there and 14 were killed.
In a speech at the White House, Trump said: “The effort to shut down police in their own communities has led to a shocking explosion of shootings, killing, violence, murders. This rampage of violence shocks the conscience of our nation and we will not stand by and watch it happen.”
The DOJ has said that more than 100 officers from the ATF, DEA and FBI will join existing local, state and federal task forces in investigating violent gangs in Chicago along with drug trafficking operations and gun crime. DHS and the U.S. Marshals Service will be sending a further 100 agents each to help with the operation.
The move comes at a time when the Trump administration is being criticized for sending federal forces to Portland, Oregon, to protect the city's federal buildings and monuments. There have been more than 50 consecutive days of rioting in Portland that began in late May in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler claims that the unrest grew after federal agents were sent to the city and has made no secret of his desire for them to leave.
Protesters there have claimed that federal agents are not wearing identifying insignia. That has been disputed by acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, who insists federal officers are wearing identification and that officers are only arresting individuals who have committed crimes. Federal agents there are now being subjected to “doxing” by the antifa and Black Lives Matters operatives who are threatened by their presence.
Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot says that agents being sent to Chicago are different from the ones involved in controversy in Portland. Although she has been critical of the events in Portland, she appeared somewhat receptive to the agents being sent to her city.
The day after the initial announcement, Trump added Detroit, Milwaukee and Cleveland to the list of cities where Operation Legend will be expanded over the coming three weeks. Although the protests in Detroit have not been as violent as those seen in other cities, there has been a jump in violent crimes there following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, with shootings rising by seven percent.
New York City has also seen a lot of violent crime recently, but New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that Trump told him federal agents will not be sent to the city at this time. Instead, any potential deployment of agents will be discussed between the President and the Governor before a decision is made.
Trump also announced that the DOJ will be giving out more than $61 million in grants that will help local and state law enforcement agencies hire new police officers.
He said: "Every American no matter their income, their race or their zip code should be able to walk their city streets, free from violence and free from fear.”
Sources for this article include: