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Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, 5 other mayors ask Congress to restrict deployment of federal forces

Wheeler was joined by Jenny Durkan (Seattle), Lori Lightfoot (Chicago), Muriel Bowser (Washington D.C.), Tim Keller (Albuquerque) and Quinton D. Lucas (Kansas City).
Credit: AP
Mayor Ted Wheeler speaks to people gathered in downtown Portland, Ore., Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Wheeler faced a hostile crowd of protesters, who screamed at and sharply questioned him as he tried to rally demonstrators who have clashed repeatedly with federal agents sent in by President Donald Trump to quell ongoing unrest in the city. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and five other mayors from across the country sent a joint letter to Congress on Monday, asking congressional leaders to enact legislation restricting the deployment of federal officers to their cities.

Protesters have gathered in downtown Portland each night for the past two months to protest police brutality, systemic racism and more recently, the presence of federal officers. President Donald Trump ordered federal agents to be deployed to Portland earlier this month despite continuing outcry against the move from state and local leaders.

The Associated Press reported Monday that Trump is considering sending more federal troops to Portland.

"At the direction of the President of the United States, unidentified federal agents have been deployed to America’s cities, like Washington, D.C., Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, to interrupt local protests and impose 'law and order' for political purposes," the mayors said in a joint statement.

"Targeting and occupation of progressive cities is unacceptable, un-American and unconstitutional. Moreover, these federal agents are not trained in modern community policing, crowd control, or de-escalation strategies. They do not know the communities in which they are operating, and they are not welcome there. This provocation is resulting in direct physical harm to our communities and must end," the mayors said.

The joint letter was signed by Wheeler, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Kansas City Mayor Quinton D. Lucas.

MORE: Read the full text of the letter

Below is the complete joint statement from the six mayors:

In the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black Americans, people across the globe gathered to protest the many systemic failures of the criminal justice system and structural racism. In the United States, protest is both a right and a matter of civic duty. As mayors, we commit to, and are bound by, the constitutional tenet that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. 

At the direction of the President of the United States, unidentified federal agents have been deployed to America’s cities, like Washington, D.C., Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, to interrupt local protests and impose “law and order” for political purposes. Targeting and occupation of progressive cities is unacceptable, un-American and unconstitutional. Moreover, these federal agents are not trained in modern community policing, crowd control, or de-escalation strategies. They do not know the communities in which they are operating, and they are not welcome there. This provocation is resulting in direct physical harm to our communities and must end.

We applaud efforts by the House of Representatives and Senate to rectify this dire situation, and support amendments being offered to the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations bills in the House this week. We call on Congress to swiftly pass legislation to block the administration from sending unwanted and unidentified federal agents to our cities. With the exception of federal agents assigned to field offices working on existing cases and investigations, we support legislative efforts to:

  • Require notice and consultation with and consent from local authorities;
  • Require visible identification at all times on federal agents and vehicles unless on an undercover mission authorized by the local U.S. Attorney;
  • Impose limitations on federal agents’ crowd control activities to protecting federal property.

The actions taken in recent weeks have no place in this nation. We demand that federal troops be removed from our cities and encourage Congress’ continued vigilance and action to pass legislation in both chambers to end this dangerous overreach.

This Administration has shown no hesitation or remorse in playing the most toxic and damaging form of politics with the lives and livelihoods of the American people. We say no more. We say unequivocally Black Lives Matter. We demand the cynical ploy to coopt the movement for racial justice to come to an end.

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