Are democratic cities rejecting federal aid to fight crime because of politics?
- On June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy first federalized National Guard troops and sent them to the University of Alabama to force desegregation.
- As of July 27, riots are still running rampant across the United States in Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, Denver, Portland, and Seattle.
- Trump announced that he is enforcing Operation Legend, which will send hundreds of federal law enforcement officers to Chicago, Kansas City, Albuquerque, and possibly other major cities, including New York and Philadelphia, to deal with increases in shootings.
- As of July 2020, the mayors of 64 of the country's 100 largest cities are affiliated with the Democratic Party.
- Of the largest rioting cities, all have democratic mayors: Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, and Portland.
On July 20, 13 Democrat mayors urged Attorney General William Barr to reconsider deploying federal forces into their cities. Political motives were brought into question when the letter insisted that the Trump Administration is attempting to divide and attract questioning to local leadership. Trump had previously penned a letter pressuring Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to put an end to the rampant violence that has continued to plague the city. Although sending federal officers to cities may appear as a plan to halt violence, Lightfoot urged that the decision is strictly political, rather than for the citizens' safety.
The letter insists that the mayors do not feel comfortable with federal forces handling their city almost immediately after the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and recent civil rights protests. Weeks ago, Lightfoot even claimed that the deployment was simply a cover-up for Trump's shortcomings in handling the COVID-19 outbreak. The mayors described the disruption of civil rights protests by federal officers as 'inconsistent with our system of democracy.'
Violence immediately followed the injection of federal personnel into Portland. A federal officer is under investigation for firing an impact round at a protester's head on July 11. These officers have been filmed rushing to confront protesters with tear gas and projectiles. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan referred to these acts as 'unconstitutional' when expressing her displeasure with Trump's decision to send officers into her city. Although it may seem like an attempt to assist a struggling city, deploying federal officers to Democrat-led cities only furthers political tension.
Riots and rising crime in the past two months have ripped through the hearts of some of America's most iconic cities. Despite no end in sight, Democratic mayors such as Portland's Ted Wheeler and New York City's Bill de Blasio continue to reject and condemn aid from federal law enforcement agencies.
Supporters of the presidential decision to deploy federal law enforcement assets to Portland, for example, claim that state and local officials have allowed the problem to get out of hand. President Trump is forced to act where Democratic-city leaders would not. Was that inaction, as some have accused, borne from political considerations? No. The Portland mayor's rejection of federal aid stems less from political concerns over re-election and more from hard ideology. Just as with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's dismantling of anti-crime units, officials seem determined to follow destructively bad policies based on their allegedly good intentions.
De Blasio has also categorically rejected offers from President Trump for federal assistance in crime reduction. Shockingly, these cities continue their damaging policies despite clear evidence that their citizens are suffering. Officials driven by political considerations would shrink back from the results seen by these municipal governments. They would swing the policy pendulum back in the direction of pragmatically restoring order while proposing moderate reforms.
These mayors, however, persevere in their rending of police departments and authority while mingling with radicals. Even with neighborhoods living in terror, they refuse to change course. This indicates a preoccupation with ideology rather than with their constituency who must continue to endure these conditions.