In Portland, Ore., where protesters have been active for nearly two months, masked armed federal agents without any identification have been abducting protesters into unmarked vehicles, as well as using tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash-bangs. They were from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, at the behest of President Donald Trump, who applauded their use of force. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown called on the federal agents to leave.
On Monday, Trump threatened to send federal forces to New York, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Oakland, Calif., and Philadelphia. Trump expanded his reasoning from dealing with civil unrest to gun violence. The White House plans to send 175 agents to Chicago to “help” with violent crime, despite Mayor Lori Lightfoot pleading for no such measure.
All the cities that Trump mentioned at the Oval Office have two things in common: They are led by Democratic mayors, and they have large Black populations. With less than four months to the general election, Trump is doubling down on the politics of fear and racism. His reelection message, which he has been tweeting ad nauseam, is that a Democratic win in November would mean chaos and crime. To make his case, Trump is using every tool he has — including militarized forces of the Department of Homeland Security — to inflame tensions with disregard to lives.