The Trump administration, expanding its effort to protect major cities, sent a team of tactical border officers to Seattle on Thursday, The New York Times reported.
The move comes a day after President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr announced that federal agents were being deployed to Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico, to help fight rising crime.
The Special Response Team is similar to tactical teams operating in Portland, where violence and protests have raged for nearly eight weeks in the Oregon city. Federal agents have been in Portland for most of July.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler was hit with tear gas Wednesday night as he stood with a crowd of people protesting Trump’s decision to send federal agents to the city.
Agents for the Special Response Team operate under the umbrella of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Times reported. They are typically deployed for intense law enforcement operations, the newspaper reported.
“The C.B.P. team will be on standby in the (Seattle) area, should they be required,” the Federal Protective Service said in a statement.
Seattle officials, like those in Portland, are opposed to having federal agents or tactical units in the city.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Wednesday accused Trump of using federal forces as a “political tool.”
Durkan told the Times that she spoke earlier Thursday with Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security. She said Wolf assured her that the Trump administration had no plans to deploy a surge of agents to Seattle and would not do so without communicating with city officials.
“Any deployment here would, in my view, undermine public safety,” Durkan said Thursday.
Alexei Woltornist, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, said in a statement that the presence in Seattle would be smaller than the one in Portland.
“There is no large-scale deployment of personnel to Seattle at this time. As threats warrant, any large-scale use of law enforcement assets will involve close coordination with local law enforcement,” Woltornist said. “There are no other cities across the country that have the same threats and lack of local law enforcement support as we are experiencing in Portland.”
“You see now a call to the Seattle streets to bring the fight from Portland to here, Durkan said Wednesday. “We do not want to give President Trump an excuse.”
At least a dozen Seattle police officers were hurt, with one needing treatment at a hospital, while a violent group of demonstrators also caused “a significant amount of property damage to government buildings and private businesses” on Sunday, The Washington Post reported.
Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, told KIRO-TV that it was appropriate to seek help from the federal government.
“Why can’t we ask for federal help?” Solan said. “Why do we have to play the political game? (This) is the time more than ever for this assistance.
“We had criminal domestic terrorists lay siege to our city for over three hours. When is enough, enough?”
“While the police officers guild has a right to their opinion, they don’t run the department,” Durkan said. “The chief does.”
On Wednesday, during his announcement of Operation Legend’s latest deployments, Trump singled out Chicago as the city most critically in need of more resources to help stem violence, the Chicago Tribune reported. The move comes a day after 15 people were wounded in a shooting near a South Side funeral home.
“In recent weeks there’s been a radical movement to defund, dismantle and dissolve our police departments,” Trump said at a news conference. “Extreme politicians have joined this anti-police crusade and relentlessly vilified our law enforcement heroes.
“This bloodshed must end. This bloodshed will end.”
In a statement Thursday, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said his department’s independent watchdog agency will investigate the use of force by federal law enforcement agents in Portland and Washington, D.C., CNN reported.
Cox Media Group