As federal deployment looms, Chicago mayor calls for end of violence

By Nathan Layne (Reuters) - Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday called on witnesses to come forward with information about an overnight gunfight at a funeral, a day after she said she would welcome help from the FBI and other federal agencies, but not a 'Portland-style deployment' of 'unnamed agents' to her city's streets. Lightfoot spoke a day after gang members opened fire at a funeral on Chicago's South Side and attendees fired back, injuring 15 people.

Reuters July 23, 2020 00:11:55 IST
As federal deployment looms, Chicago mayor calls for end of violence

As federal deployment looms Chicago mayor calls for end of violence

By Nathan Layne

(Reuters) - Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday called on witnesses to come forward with information about an overnight gunfight at a funeral, a day after she said she would welcome help from the FBI and other federal agencies, but not a "Portland-style deployment" of "unnamed agents" to her city's streets.

Lightfoot spoke a day after gang members opened fire at a funeral on Chicago's South Side and attendees fired back, injuring 15 people. Two of those shot are in critical condition, while the other 13 are expected to recover.

The mayor, a Democrat, also detailed a separate shooting on Tuesday of a 3-year old girl by two men who fired into the car she was in with her parents. The girl was shot in the head but is in stable condition, police superintendent David Brown told the same news conference.

The violent flare-up could provide fodder to President Donald Trump and his Republican allies, who have sought to promote a law-and-order message ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election. Critics say the administration is seeking to divert attention away from its widely criticized response to the coronavirus pandemic, one of the reasons he is trailing Democratic challenger Joe Biden in opinion polls.

Trump threatened earlier this week to send FBI and other federal agents to Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland, California, to help local authorities crack down on a surge in violence in recent weeks. Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr announced a program known as Operation Legend to provide federal help to law enforcement officials in Kansas City, Missouri, where murders have spiked.

The launch of that program has coincided with the deployment of agents drawn from other federal agencies to Portland, Oregon, to protect a courthouse from weeks of protests over racial justice. In that action, unidentified federal agents have been accused of pulling protesters into unmarked vans, a possible violation of their civil rights.

Trump was scheduled to deliver remarks about Operation Legend later on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Lightfoot said she would take Trump to court if he sent unidentified federal agents to her city.

"The Trump administration is not going to foolishly deploy unnamed agents to the streets of Chicago," she said as she outlined plans for an influx of identified agents from the FBI and other agencies to combat crime. "We have information that allows us to say, at least at this point, that we don't see a Portland-style deployment coming to Chicago."

Chicago has seen an explosion in violence this summer. There were 116 murders over the 28 days through July 19, an increase of nearly 200 percent, police department data shows.

Police superintendent Brown blamed turf battles among the roughly 117,000 gang members in the city of 2.7 million people, where one shooting begets another in an endless cycle of revenge.

"This same cycle repeats itself over and over and over again. This cycle is fueled by street gangs, guns and drugs," he said. "Too many people in Chicago have been touched by gun violence."

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday that he told Trump that his state was able and prepared to handle a spike in crime in New York City, noting that he had not declared a public safety emergency.

"And since the state hasn't made a declaration, I don't see why there's any reason why the federal government should take action," Cuomo said in a call with reporters, adding that Trump agreed with his assessment.

(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Maria Caspani in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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