Could Milwaukee Get Federal Troops?
Trump's chief of staff says administration prepping plan to send troops to Democratic-run cities like Milwaukee.
The Trump administration is preparing to roll out a plan to send the kind of military-style federal assaults used in Portland, Oregon into other Democratic-run cities, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told Fox News on Sunday.
Attorney General William Barr “is weighing in on that” with Homeland Secretary Chad Wolf, Meadows said, “and you’ll see something rolled out this week as we start to go in and make sure the communities, whether it’s Chicago, or Portland, or Milwaukee, or someplace across the heartland of the country — we need to make sure that our communities are safe.”
In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, President Donald Trump said federal squads would likely target cities run by the party that opposes him, noting that “violence” was on the increase in “Democrat-run cities.”
“They are liberally run, they are stupidly run,” the president added.
The Trump campaign lent support to these warnings Sunday by tweeting out Meadows’ comments.
Mayor Tom Barrett condemned the idea of bringing federal troops here, in a statement to Urban Milwaukee: “With few exceptions, protests in Milwaukee have been peaceful. It is preposterous to suggest Milwaukee needs federal agents to quell unrest or manage peaceful protests. Their presence at this time could be counterproductive.”
Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes posted a comment on Twitter on Sunday blasting the idea: “There is no point to this. It’s about poll numbers. It’s Trump virtue signaling, potentially with force, to his base who already has opinions about Milwaukee because he’s down by so many points in the state. It’s an election strategy to drive an even deeper divide in Wisconsin.”
There has been little violence associated with Milwaukee’s protests of police brutality and the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, which have gone on for 52 straight days, often with more than one march per day. The Wisconsin National Guard was withdrawn from the city some six weeks ago, on June 8th, with Gov. Tony Evers praising the marchers for their peaceful tactics: “I am encouraged by the peaceful protesters who continue to make their voices heard and demand change,” he said.
Around that time Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales also noted that any violence that happened was not directly connected to protesters but was committed by “our local problem people” who “would still be involved in criminal activity” if there hadn’t been any protests. Since then there has been one incident, the burning of a north side home, which protest leaders were present at, but opposed.
On Sunday Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told National Public Radio that the protest situation in his city had been quieting — until the federal squads moved in and “blew the lid off the whole thing.” He said city and state officials tried to reason with Wolf, but were told to “stuff it.”
Federal officers in military-style fatigues with no identification began roving through downtown Portland in unmarked vans last week, snatching people off the streets. “They won’t even identify who they are,” Wheeler said. “We don’t know why they’re here. We don’t know the circumstances under which they’re making arrests.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has blasted the squads as “stormtroopers … kidnapping protesters,” adding “These are not the actions of a democratic republic.”
The use of federal troops in Portland has triggered protests and legal action. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum filed suit in U.S. District Court on Friday, seeking an injunction to stop the uninvited squads’ “kidnap and false arrest” of citizens, charging this “violated constitutional protections against illegal search and seizure and loss of liberty,” as the Huffington Post reported.
The American Civil Liberties Union also sued DHS, and U.S. lawmakers have called for an investigation. Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has called the federal crackdown “political theater” to provoke violence and help the Trump campaign by distract attention from his handling of the coronavirus response.
As justification for their presence in Portland, federal authorities have cited a June 26 executive order by Trump directing them to protect federal monuments and buildings.
“But Meadows suggested the Trump administration wants to broaden its legal justification” for the use of federal troops, Mother Jones reported. “Notably he cited Chicago, where the issue drawing national attention is gun violence, not political unrest. Trump has previously threatened to ‘send in the Feds’ if Chicago ‘doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on.’”
Update July 21: On Monday Trump told the press he may consider sending troops to a number of cities “run by liberal Democrats,” including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland. He did not mention Milwaukee. His administration “now plans to send about 150 Homeland Security Investigations special agents to Chicago in the coming days,” the New York Times reported. Meanwhile the Trump campaign has released an ad showing an elderly lady calling the police only to be put on hold because the police have been defunded. “You won’t se safe in Joe Biden’s America,” the ad warns.
Also on Monday Milwaukee Common Council President Cavalier Johnson released a statement opposing any federal troops being sent to Milwaukee, calling it “truly an un-American act that is stifling citizens’ First Amendment rights” and “would only cause a deeper divide and heightened conflict.”
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