AP Portland Protests

Federal agents use crowd control munitions to disperse Black Lives Matter protesters at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland, Ore. on July 20, 2020. Officers used teargas and projectiles to move the crowd after some protesters tore down a fence fronting the courthouse.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was one of more than a dozen mayors from major Democratic cities across the U.S. to sign on to a letter Tuesday evening demanding the Trump administration withdraw federal forces from U.S. cities and agree to cease unilateral deployments in the future.

The letter comes a day after Republican President Donald Trump threatened to send federal officers into several U.S. cities, whose mayors he described as “liberal Democrats,” to tamp down violence sparked since the death of George Floyd. In doing so, Trump fueled a national fire ignited by his federal crackdown on anti-racism protests in Portland, Oregon, where unidentified federal officers have whisked away protesters in dark, unmarked vehicles.

“The unilateral deployment of these forces into American cities is unprecedented and violates fundamental constitutional protections and tenets of federalism. … This abuse of power cannot continue,” the mayors wrote.

“Deployment of federal forces in the streets of our communities has not been requested nor is it acceptable,” they continued. “While U.S. Marshals have had jurisdiction inside federal courthouses for decades, it is unacceptable and chilling that this administration has formed and deployed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Rapid Deployment Unit and is sending federal authorities to conduct crowd control on city streets and detain individuals.”

The letter, posted on Twitter Tuesday night by Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C., was addressed to U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf. In addition to Hancock and Bowser, other mayors calling for “immediate action” hailed from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Oakland, Philadelphia, Portland, Sacramento, San Jose, Seattle and Tucson.

Amid racial justice protests in Denver, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force was deployed in Denver to “apprehend and charge violent agitators hijacking peaceful protests and engaging in violations of federal law,” U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn stated May 31. Still, federal authorities’ presence has largely been limited in Denver.

On Wednesday, Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet joined Oregon Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy in introducing a bill, called the Preventing Authoritarian Policing Tactics on America’s Streets Act, that would block the Trump administration from deploying federal forces “as a shadowy paramilitary against Americans.”

“The Trump Administration’s decision to send unidentified federal agents into Portland to terrorize protesters who are exercising their First Amendment rights only sows more fear and division,” Bennet said in a statement. “America is not a battlespace. This should not be happening in a healthy democracy, and this legislation aims to prevent our federal government — including the president — from using these tactics.”

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