Trump Sending Federal Agent “Surge” to Milwaukee, State, Local Officials React
Attorney General calls it a "facist tactic." MPD says support not for civil unrest.
President Donald Trump says he will send a “surge” of federal resources to address violent crime in Milwaukee and four other cities.
The moves comes as a deployment of federal agents to Portland, Oregon has become increasingly controversial with Mayor Ted Wheeler standing alongside protesters last night and being on the receiving end of tear gas. Individuals have been detained by unidentified individuals from unmarked vehicles and released hours later.
The Milwaukee surge will come as part of Operation Legend, which saw the U.S. Department of Justice send 200 federal officers to Kansas City after a four-year-old child was killed.
A two-year-old girl was shot and killed in Milwaukee this week. A suspect was taken into custody.
Operation Legend will expand into Chicago and Albequerque before branching into Milwaukee, Cleveland and Detroit.
Governor Tony Evers, in a press briefing before Trump’s announcement, panned the move. “Amping up the federal presence will create more turmoil and less successful approaches to making sure people have a chance to express their First Amendment rights,” he said. Evers had previously sent Trump a letter cautioning against the move.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul had the sharpest criticism. “I don’t use the phrase ‘fascist tactics’ lightly. But there is no more accurate way to describe this administration’s repeated resort to and incitement of racism, xenophobia, and violence,” he said.
“The Wisconsin Department of Justice works to protect the public, and we are happy to work with additional federal agents if there is transparency, collaboration, and it’s clear that the agents will be working to reduce violent crime,” he said. “However, if the agents will be interfering with peaceful protests or attempting to build arrest statistics without a broader concern for improving public safety, I will be speaking out against their presence here, and I will take any appropriate legal action.”
The operation appears to closely resemble Operation Relentless Pursuit, an initiative announced for the same cities, plus Memphis and Baltimore, in December 2019. The $71 million effort was expected to include 400 officers supplementing local police forces.
“The Milwaukee Police Department is aware of the deployment of federal agents to other cities for the purpose of providing support to those local law enforcement agencies as they address their civil unrest. The Milwaukee Police Department respectfully declines the deployment of federal agents in Milwaukee for this purpose,” said MPD in a release. “We look forward to continuing to work with our federal partners on other joint initiatives such as those addressing violent crime, drug trafficking, internet crimes against children, and human trafficking.”
The news comes during a tense week between Police Chief Alfonso Morales and the public safety oversight board, the Fire & Police Commission. The commissioners, without any discussion, voted to issue 11 directives to Morales on Monday night, but did not provide a written copy of the orders until Tuesday afternoon. Morales has seven days to comply with a number of the directives, including releasing records, or faces suspension or termination. Protesters appeared outside of Morales’ north side home Wednesday night.
The homicide rate in Milwaukee has nearly doubled this year after declining for four years, with over a third of 2020 homicides being attributed to domestic violence. Two mass shootings occurred in the city before the pandemic.
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- Federal “Surge” Is At Least 25 Agents - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 29th, 2020
- City Hall: Milwaukee Federal Agent “Surge” Nothing New? - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 27th, 2020
- Op Ed: Trump Has Enormous “Emergency” Powers - Matt Rothschild - Jul 27th, 2020
- League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County Statement on Deployment of Federal Law Enforcement Officers to Milwaukee - League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County - Jul 27th, 2020
- Special Public Safety and Health Committee meeting set for Monday, July 27 - Ald. Marina Dimitrijevic - Jul 25th, 2020
- Common Council opposes divisive and unwanted federal action in Milwaukee - Ald. Khalif Rainey - Jul 24th, 2020
- MPD responds to reported deployment of federal agents in Milwaukee - Milwaukee Police Department - Jul 23rd, 2020
- Trump Sending Federal Agent “Surge” to Milwaukee, State, Local Officials React - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 23rd, 2020
- Mayor Tom Barrett released the following statement: - Mayor Tom Barrett - Jul 23rd, 2020
- Council could back legislation requiring federal law enforcement officers to wear visible identification - Ald. Milele Coggs - Jul 23rd, 2020
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