President Trump vowed Monday to send more federal law enforcement agents into cities such as Portland, Oregon, to quell ongoing street violence, saying Democratic officials are “physically afraid” to confront anarchists and protesters.
“We’re sending law enforcement,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House. “We can’t let this happen to the cities.”
He said federal law enforcement officers have done a “fantastic job” since being deployed last week to Portland, where sometimes violent protests have raged for nearly two months.
However, House Democratic leaders decried the federal intervention as “deeply disturbing.”
“This is simply unacceptable and it must stop,” said a joint statement by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson and Armed Forces Committee Chairman Adam Smith.
“Our nation is at a crossroads, and as Americans across the country exercise their First Amendment rights, the Trump administration has repeatedly deployed federal law enforcement officials to try to silence them,” they said.
House Democratic leaders also have asked inspectors general at the Justice and Homeland Security departments to investigate allegations federal officers used heavy-handed tactics to break up protests.
Federal officers, some wearing military-style uniforms and driving unmarked vehicles, have been patrolling Portland streets and arresting protesters. Some protesters claimed they were arrested without officers reading their Miranda rights.
The Portland mayor and Oregon governor both asked the federal agents to leave, a request that was rejected by the president.
Mr. Trump said the mayhem in cities that he blamed on “liberal Democrats” would spread nationwide if presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden wins in November.
“The whole country would go to hell and we’re not going to let it go to hell,” he said.
Beyond protests, major cities including Chicago and New York have seen a significant rise in shootings and other violence this summer, even as activists on the left call for cities to “defund” police departments.
Mr. Trump said he was taking a stand because local and state Democratic leaders in Oregon and elsewhere are too timid.
“The governor and the mayor, and the senators out there — they’re afraid of these people,” Mr. Trump said. “That’s the reason they don’t want us to help. They’re afraid, I really believe they’re actually maybe even physically afraid of these people.”
“I’m going to do something, that I can tell you, because we’re not going to leave New York and Chicago and Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore and all of these [cities] — Oakland is a mess,” Mr. Trump said. “We’re not going to let this happen in our country — all run by liberal Democrats.”
He said federal agents in Portland “really have done a fantastic job in a very short period of time, no problem.”
“They grab them, a lot of people in jail, their leaders,” the president said approvingly. “These are anarchists, these are not protesters. These are people that hate our country. And we’re not gonna let it go forward.”
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