Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas questioned on Sunday President Trump’s motives for sending federal agents into U.S. cities – saying that while he would welcome the help in solving a slew of murders in the Midwestern city, he thinks the move could be more about buoying Trump’s reelection chances.
“I was pretty frustrated this week [that] the president mentioned the George Floyd protests, mentioned the Black Lives Matter movement,” Lucas, a Democrat, said on “Fox News Sunday” of the recent protests over racial inequality and police brutality. “That is not the case in Kansas City. We’ve had year-over-year increases [but] what we need help on is actually clearing some of the unsolved murders.”
Lucas added: “Let’s try to have a pinpointed and targeted focus on solving murders…I think if you listen to recent statements… we are happy to work with federal agents in a limited scope.”
Despite his willingness to have federal agents work with local law enforcement, Lucas said that Trump’s rhetoric – specifically in light of the controversy surrounding the tactics employed in Portland, Ore., by the federal agents – has caused many of his constituents to voice concern about the presence of agents on the city streets.
“What we don’t need is more fuel on the fire from federal agents to make, I think, an exciting political issue,” he said.
Trump on Wednesday announced that he was deploying 100 federal agents to Chicago to help combat rising rates of some crimes – a move that marks an expansion of the White House’s intervention into local law enforcement as Trump continues to position himself as the “law and order” president.
The "surge" of agents announced on Wednesday to Chicago and other American cities is part of Operation Legend – named after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was fatally shot while sleeping in a Kansas City apartment late last month.
While sending federal agents to aid local law enforcement is not unprecedented – Attorney General Bill Barr announced a similar surge effort in December for seven cities that had seen spiking violence – the type of federal agent being sent, and some of their tactics, have raised concerns among state and local lawmakers.
A number of lawmakers from New York to Portland have spoken out against the Trump administration sending the agents to their cities, especially following reports that unidentified federal agents detained protesters in Portland and took them away in unmarked vehicles. Portland has been hit with near-daily demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism since the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.
Local authorities also have complained that the surges have only exacerbated tensions, and criminal justice experts say the efforts defy explanation because of the unprecedented moment America is living through — with a pandemic, historic unemployment and a mass reckoning over racism and how people of color are treated by police.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.