Trump sends federal agents to Detroit amid protests over police brutality

    President Donald J. Trump addresses his remarks to the Economic Club of New York Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York. | Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead via Flickr Public Domain

    The President Trump administration announced Wednesday that federal law enforcement agents will be coming to Detroit as part of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) “Operation Legend.”

    Trump first announced this plan last week as anti-police brutality protests continue in many major cities around the country, including Detroit. 

    The DOJ is sending approximately 42 agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to the city, and adding 10 agents from the Detroit ATF to work on violent gun crimes. 

    According to a statement from the DOJ, homicides are up in Detroit nearly 31% and shootings resulting in wounds are up over 53%.

    The operation was first launched on July 8 in Kansas City, and expanded on July 22 to Chicago and Albuquerque. The DOJ also will be sending federal agents to Cleveland and Milwaukee.

    Whitmer, Nessel blast Trump threat to dispatch federal law enforcement to Detroit

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel have been vocal in their opposition to “Operation Legend.”

    Whitmer said Trump is “attempting to suppress the voices of those he doesn’t agree with” and “doesn’t know the first thing about Detroit.”

    “Such threats undermine peace and stability in our communities by unnecessarily escalating tensions and encroaching on states’ rights,” Nessel said. “We are a nation of laws, and the president’s attempts to intimidate our communities with threats of violence could not be more un-American.”

    U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, who leads the DOJ, said Tuesday during a congressional committee meeting that he “was not aware of” threats of violence against Whitmer during anti-lockdown protests at the State Capitol in April. 

    Barr tells Congress he was ‘not aware’ of threats to Whitmer’s life

    No federal agents were sent to Michigan to assist local police departments during those protests.

    The Bureau of Justice Assistance will provide $1.4 million to support the operation in Detroit, and the COPS Office has also made $2.4 million available to the Detroit Police Department to fund the hiring of 15 officers.

    Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) took to Twitter to denounce Trump’s plans. 

    “Recently,  implications have been that the city of Detroit cannot handle its own affairs in regards to Civil Unrest,” Hollier tweeted. “I’d like to reassure anyone concerned that this is not the case. The people are of the finest character and will continue [to] conduct themselves … peacefully.”

    Allison Donahue
    Allison Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.