The decision came a few days after President Trump made threats to send law enforcement from the Justice Department to U.S. cities to quell violent protests and deter crime.
"Over the next three weeks, the Justice Department plans to further expand the initiative into Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee," a statement on the White House's website said.
Other cities that may get new federal agents as per President Trump’s earlier warnings are New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, and Oakland.
"These are anarchists, and the politicians out there - yes they're weak, but they're afraid of these people, they're actually afraid of these people - and that's why they say we don't want the federal government helping," President Trump said, further noting that part of what spurred his decision was a “radical movement” from “extreme politicians” that purportedly aims to vilify, defund, dismantle and dissolve the country’s police departments.
This “anti-police” movement, President Trump said, has since led to an explosion in violent crimes.
"To look at it from any standpoint their efforts to shut down policing in their own communities have led to a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence. This bloodshed must end. This bloodshed will end," the president added. (Related: Shooting incidents in New York City surge – NYPD unable to solve them due to ineffective governance and “anti-police sentiment”)
Attorney General Bill Barr, in a statement, said the deployment of the said federal agents is part of the planned expansion of "Operation Legend."
According to Barr, he has directed the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to significantly increase resources into Chicago and Albuquerque in order to help state and local officials fight increasing levels of violent crimes particularly gun violence.
The press release, however, did not mention plans for any other cities.
Inspectors General for the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice have now opened investigations into the actions of several federal agents who were sent to control the riots and protests in Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon.
The investigations, announced by the Justice Department on its website Thursday, came after the actions of federal agents in both cities within the past two months earned widespread public outcry and condemnation for their purported unnecessary brutality.
DOJ Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz, in a statement, said that their investigation into the matter will include examining the training and instruction that was provided to the DOJ law enforcement personnel; as well as their compliance with applicable identification requirements, rules of engagement and legal authorities. Horowitz added that they will also look into the agents’ adherence to DOJ policies regarding the use of less-lethal munitions, chemical agents, and other uses of force.
Meanwhile, Joseph V. Cuffari, the Inspector General for the DHS, said that his office is also forming a team to examine the DHS's deployment of law enforcement personnel to Portland.
In a statement, Cuffari noted that they will work with Horowitz's office to investigate reports that agents "improperly detained and transported protesters" in Portland -- a reference to accounts of federal forces allegedly snatching demonstrators off the street and detaining them in unmarked vehicles.
President Trump, as well as top officials from both the DOJ and DHS, have previously noted and defended the actions of federal agents in Portland -- some of whom were caught on video firing teargas and using batons on a group of mothers who were protesting as part of a Black Lives Matter demonstration -- as being “above board” and “justified,” adding that he plans to deploy more federal agents to control the violence, which he said was being caused by elements from “the Radical Left.”
“Portland was totally out of control. The Democrats – all liberal Democrats running the place – had no idea what they were doing,” President Trump said in an earlier press briefing where he described Portland as a city overrun by mobs of "violent anarchists", a possible reference to the spate of violence that happened in the city over the weekend, in which rioters broke into buildings, lit fires and moved construction fences around the city's parks.
Local and state leaders, however, have insisted that the federal agents deployed in Portland are the ones who are actually inciting and escalating the violence and have repeatedly asked the government to withdraw the agents.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown even went so far as to compare the use of federal law enforcement units to “adding gasoline to a fire.”
Amplifying this call were the mayors of several major U.S. cities, including Oakland and San Jose, who, on Monday, co-signed a letter condemning President Trump’s decision to deploy federal agents, calling it an “abuse of power” for political gain.
The letter, which was co-signed by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo as well as the mayors of Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, Washington DC, Kansas City, Boston, Philadelphia, Denver, Los Angeles, Tucson, Sacramento and Phoenix, was addressed to both U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, and demanded the immediate withdrawal of federal agents from Portland and other cities across America.
The announcements for the investigations also came a day after Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler found himself tear-gassed in the middle of a protest at a federal courthouse.
Wheeler, who lashed out at Homeland Security on Twitter earlier this week, said the actions of the federal agents during the protests were an “egregious overreaction” that “kicked the hornet’s nest.”
“As you can see, all it’s done is piss everybody off. It’s made everybody angry. They’ve come in and they kicked the hornet’s nest. This is not a de-escalation strategy. This is flat-out urban warfare and it’s being brought on the people of this country by the president of the United States,” Wheeler, a staunch Democrat, stated.
President Trump, in response, slammed Wheeler, noting in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity that the mayor “made a fool out of himself.”
“He wanted to be among the people so he went into the crowd and they knocked the hell out of him. That was the end of him,” President Trump said, adding that Wheeler’s situation at the protest was “pretty pathetic.”