On Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced Operation Legend, a project to send federal law enforcement to U.S. cities to combat a terrifying surge in violent crime. Trump framed this project as his response to the radical movement to defund and abolish the police. While he announced that he will dispatch federal agents to various cities, he did not provide a full list, only mentioning two in particular.
“In recent weeks, there has been a radical movement to defund, dismantle, and dissolve our police departments. Extreme politicians have joined this anti-police crusade and relentlessly vilified our law-enforcement heroes,” the president warned. This movement “has led to a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders, and heinous crimes of violence.”
“Today I’m announcing a surge of federal law enforcement into American communities plagued by violent crime. We’ll work every single day to restore public safety, protect our nation’s children, and bring violent perpetrators to justice,” Trump announced.
While Democrats across the country have condemned the president’s efforts to bring law and order back to crime-ridden cities like Portland, Ore., and The New York Times ran an op-ed denouncing the president’s “occupation of American cities,” Trump insisted, “Frankly, we have no choice but to get involved.”
The president specifically mentioned Chicago, where “at least 414 people have been murdered in the city this year, a roughly 50 percent increase over last year.” He also mentioned the 15 people senselessly shot in a “merciless onslaught” outside a Chicago funeral home.
“The Department of Justice will immediately surge federal law enforcement to the City of Chicago. The FBI, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service, and Homeland Security will together be sending hundreds of skilled law enforcement officers to Chicago to help drive down violent crime,” Trump announced.
— The Hill (@thehill) July 22, 2020
On Friday, a group of antifa rioters shot cans and fired mortars at police in a battle in front of Chicago’s statue of Christopher Columbus. Antifa riots have terrorized the streets of Portland for 54 straight nights. On Saturday evening, for example, two groups of antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters squared off against police and federal troops, setting the police union building on fire and attacking the federal courthouse. Before the unrest began, Mayor Ted Wheeler (D-Portland) decided to hamstring federal troops, aiming to prevent local law enforcement from teaming up with them. Rioters also set off mortars aimed at police stations in Seattle this weekend.
“Under Operation Legend we will also soon send federal law enforcement to other cities that need help,” he added, lamenting that many city leaders are “too proud” or “too political” to ask for help. While the president did not give a list of cities, he did specifically mention Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Trump also insisted that local law enforcement needs to do its job. “But we must remember that the job of policing a neighborhood falls on the shoulders of local elected leadership. Never forget that. When they abdicate their duty, the results are catastrophic,” he declared.
The president announced that the Department of Justice will send $61 million in grants to fund Operation Legend.
Trump also called it “absolute insanity” that left-wing cities are defunding the police while at the same time protecting criminal illegal aliens. “America must be a sanctuary for law-abiding citizens, not criminal aliens,” he declared.
The president concluded with a rousing declaration about the importance of law and order. “Opportunity cannot thrive where there is violence, prosperity cannot flourish where there is bloodshed, and security cannot exist where there are violent criminals who are able to maim and murder with impunity,” he said.
While Trump defended law and order, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden condemned the president, claiming Trump sent federal agents to attack “peaceful protesters” in Portland “without a clearly defined mandate or authority.” Biden did not acknowledge the rising crime or the horrific 54 nights of violent riots in Portland specifically. Instead, he suggested that Trump was to blame for the unrest.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.