Charles Rex Arbogast/WBEZ
Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks during a news conference Friday, March 20, 2020, in Chicago.
Charles Rex Arbogast/WBEZ
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is asking President Donald Trump not to send federal agents to the city, instead imploring him to help the city address violent crime by cracking down on the proliferation of illegal guns across the country, according to a letter obtained by WBEZ late Monday.
The four-page letter addressed to Trump Monday and signed by Lightfoot urges the Republican president to provide meaningful support — instead of playing "games."
"What we do not need, and what will certainly make our community less safe is secret, federal agents deployed to Chicago. Any other form of militarized assistance within our borders that would not be within our control or within the direct command of the Chicago Police Department would spell disaster," the mayor writes.
Lightfoot writes that she was responding to a letter he sent in June, but also to recent "statements from you and members of your Administration regarding offers of federal assistance."
Though a tally is not mentioned specifically in the letter, it comes on the same day the Chicago Tribune reported some 150 federal agents would be deployed to the city of Chicago — similar to what happened in Portland last week. Federal agents there driving unmarked cars reportedly scooped up protesters from the streets, without telling people where they were going or why they were being arrested, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
The Department of Homeland Security refused to comment on the Chicago deployment, telling WBEZ in an email, "DHS does not comment on any allegedly leaked operations."
Referencing the federal troops in Portland, Lighfoot tells the president such action would not make residents safer. "Quite the opposite," she writes. "The deployment of secret, federal agents in Portland has undermined the residents' confidence in all levels of government and fomented more unrest."
Lightfoot characterized Trump's rhetoric as "misplaced" and "incendiary" and suggests specific ways the federal government can make Chicago safer.
This includes "common-sense gun safety reform" — particularly as it relates to the proliferation of illegal guns on the streets of Chicago — and getting at the root causes of violence through "community investment."
"In the end, we very much want to partner with an executive branch that respects our city," the mayor tells Trump.
Claudia Morell covers city hall for WBEZ. Follow her @claudiamorell.