Mayor Says Federal Officers ‘Not Welcome' at Boston Protests

Marty Walsh said he has signed on to a letter with other mayors asking the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to withdraw their forces

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Mayor Marty Walsh said Tuesday that the federal law enforcement officers that President Donald Trump has said he plans to send to cities across the United States to help quell protests are not wanted in Boston.

"We've seen the footage of unidentified federal officers aggressively detaining protesters in Portland, Oregon," Walsh said at a press conference Tuesday. "And we've heard the president say he's bringing that strategy to other cities."

Demonstrators crowded in front of the U.S. federal courthouse and the Justice Center in Portland, Oregon, late Monday night, before camouflaged, unidentified agents cleared them out as the loud sound and light of flash bang grenades filled the sky.

"I want to make absolutely clear that behavior and that type of so-called help is not welcome in the City of Boston," Walsh said Tuesday. "It's being done with no coordination, it's being done with no regard for the rights and safety of protesters and appears to be needlessly escalating the situation."

The federal officers sent into Portland, Oregon, by the Trump Administration to crack down on protests have been behaving in unpredictable ways that have caused confusion and fear in the city, said Celina Tebor, a reporter from the Oregonian. But she said the protests seem to have been only reinvigorated by their presence.

The mayor said he has signed on to a letter with other mayors, including Ted Wheeler in Portland and Lori Lightfoot in Chicago, asking the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security "to withdraw these forces and end this strategy immediately." The mayors also sent a letter to Congress asking for public hearings on the issue.

"The unilateral deployment of these forces into American cities is unprecedented and violates fundamental constitutional protections and tenets of federalism," the letter reads. "As you are well aware, President Trump threatened to deploy federal forces in Seattle to 'clear out' a protest area and in Chicago to 'clean up' the city. Seattle and Chicago authorities objected and threatened legal action to stop such actions. In Washington, DC outside Lafayette Park, extreme action was taken by federal law enforcement against protesters without the Mayor of DC’s approval. Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli said in recent days that the administration intends 'to continue not just in Portland but in any of the facilities that we're responsible for around the country.' This abuse of power cannot continue."

In Boston, Walsh added, "we support the movement for racial justice. We've built trust and solidarity with those who are demonstrating. And Boston's demonstrations, with very few exceptions, have been peaceful."

In Portland, state and local authorities, who didn't ask for federal help, are awaiting a ruling in a lawsuit filed late last week. State Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in court papers that masked federal officers have arrested people on the street, far from the courthouse, with no probable cause and whisked them away in unmarked cars.

Trump says he plans to send federal agents to other cities, too.

“We’re going to have more federal law enforcement, that I can tell you,” Trump said Monday. “In Portland, they’ve done a fantastic job. They’ve been there three days, and they really have done a fantastic job in a very short period of time.”

As protesters pushed for racial justice and police reform in Boston, our reporters interviewed them to find out why they're making their voices heard and what their message is in their own words.

Homeland Security was planning to deploy about 150 of its agents to Chicago, according to an official with direct knowledge of the plans who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

They were expected to stay in Chicago at least two months and could be be deployed to other locations at some point, the official said. Homeland Security said in a statement that the department does not comment on “allegedly leaked operations.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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