CHICAGO, Ill. (WMAQ/NBC) – As more than 200 federal agents arrive in Chicago to assist police during an especially violent summer, a federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed to keep the feds from policing protesters. There’s a sharp division over whether the added law enforcement will be helpful.
Attorneys representing Black Lives Matter and other activists filed the suit Thursday as they watch what’s happening with protesters in Portland. The White House says the agents coming to Chicago are on a different mission to assist with guns, drugs and gang arrests, but activists don’t believe it.
Aislinn Pulley with Black Lives Matter said, “They’re trying to tell us that more police are needed to end communal violence? It is a lie! It is a lie! Chicago has more police on the street that any other city in the country.”
Mayor Lightfoot and President Trump spoke by phone Wednesday. She supports agents if, as promised, they work alongside CPD. “I think we understand each other and I have drawn a very, very sharp line,” Lightfoot said. “We are not going to agree to or accept anything like what is happening in Portland, Oregon. We’re not going to have unnamed federal agents patrolling our streets pretending to be police.”
This new show of force, called “Operation Legend,” is sending more than 100 investigators from the FBI, DEA and ATF. In addition, 100 members of the U.S. Marshals Office and another 100 from Homeland Security will focus on guns, drugs and gangs.
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mark Curran said the agents are needed, especially after this week’s shooting outside a funeral home. “There’s people that are dying all over these neighborhoods,” he said. “They are young people, they need help. They’ll take help any way they can get it.”
Still, activists will be watching closely concerned their right to protest may be in jeopardy.
Mayor Lightfoot said she’s prepared to go to court if the federal agents being sent to Chicago use what she’s calling “Portland-style” tactics here.