Rockford, Illinois News

Congressman sounds off as Trump readies federal agents for Chicago


CHICAGO – As President Donald Trump prepares at least 150 Department of Homeland Security officers to curb the violence in Chicago, a congressman says they should stay in the nation’s capital.

U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL) says deploying federal officers would cause more civil unrest and threaten the safety of Chicagoans.

“Your tactics and your troops are not welcome in Chicago,” Garcia said, referring to Trump. “Don’t even think about trying what you did in Portland in Chicago. Not here, not ever–not on our watch.”

Garcia echoes Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who penned a letter to the White House Monday, saying a federal deployment would “spell disaster” and “foment a massive wave of opposition,” much like what’s unfolded in Portland over the past several days.

In Portland, dozens of people, many of whom were suspected of destroying federal property, have been detained or arrested by federal officers in unmarked vehicles. Violent incidents have erupted as a result. Several people, including Portland elected officials, claim those arrested were innocent demonstrators who were picked off the streets without warning. The arrests came after more than a month of public turbulence. Local police have been ordered to stand down during some of the incidents, many of which have been reported as peaceful protests.

In Chicago, Lightfoot isn’t unwilling to accept all help from Washington. She says there is something Trump could do. The Democrat said last week that federal gun control would be a step in the right direction as well as more regulations on licensed dealers.

“We’re doing an all-hands-on-deck strategy,” Lightfoot told MSNBC. “We’re really focussing on the root causes of the violence, but fundamentally we have too many illegal guns on our street and that is a direct result of a failure of federal leadership.”

Meanwhile, Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara welcomes the help from Homeland Security, calling Lightfoot a “complete failure who is either unwilling or unable to maintain law and order.”

Catanzara’s sentiments come as more than 20 complaints were filed against officers stemming from a clash with protesters at Grant Park over the weekend. More than a dozen people were arrested and 49 officers were injured as rioters attempted to pull down a statue of Christopher Columbus. Eighteen officers required medical treatment.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said the violent group broke off from a peaceful march and began throwing things at officers.

“Peaceful demonstrations,” Brown said, “have been hijacked by organized mobs.”

Federal officers are expected to arrive in Chicago sometime this week.

This story has been updated. 

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