US PRESIDENT Trump announced yesterday that he is sending ‘a surge of federal security forces to US cities in a crackdown on crime’.
Chicago, New York and Philadelphia are being targeted in the Republican president’s offensive dubbed operation ‘Taliferro’.
His comments came after Mayor of Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler, sided with demonstrators in their call for federal officers to leave the city after getting tear gassed by federal agents during mass protests against racism and police violence on Wednesday night.
Wheeler, 57, was among the crowd of protesters outside the federal courthouse and the Justice Centre when federal police fired the gas to disperse the crowd.
The Democrat mayor, who has been in office since 2017, had talked to demonstrators for around two hours before the gas was used. He told one protester: ‘I’m not going to leave. If you get gassed, I’m getting gassed.’
One man walked up to the mayor and emptied a bag full of shrapnel in front of him causing Wheeler to stop in his tracks, while another came up behind him and put a police hat on his head which he swiftly removed.
Several people held banners aloft reading ‘Tear gas Ted’ and ‘Hey Ted, no more tear gas.’
Wheeler was filmed coughing as he marched on with protesters, with some people swearing at the mayor. One person shouted, ‘How does it feel, Teddy?’ and a brief tussle broke out between the crowd and his security detail before he left the scene.
Trump defended the deployment of federal officers, claiming that his administration is ‘trying to help Portland, not hurt it’.
The operation announced by Trump is named after a four-year-old boy, LeGend Taliferro, who was shot dead while sleeping in his family home in Kansas City in June. The boy’s mother joined the president at Wednesday’s announcement.
The operation will see agents from the FBI, Marshals Service and other federal agencies work with local law enforcement, according to the US Department of Justice.
Trump – whose opinion poll numbers have been slumping amid a coronavirus-crippled US economy – said: ‘This rampage of violence shocks the conscience of our nation.’
The president, who accuses Democrats of being weak on crime, said: ‘In recent weeks there has been a radical movement to defend, dismantle and dissolve our police departments.’
He blamed this for ‘a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence.’
He added: ‘This bloodshed will end.’