Trump threatens to send federal agents to Detroit amid protests

In a statement that turned heads for many state and city leaders, President Donald Trump on Monday threatened to send in federal troops to cities "all run by liberal Democrats" in an effort to quell protests.

Among the list of cities he listed were New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Oakland, and Detroit.

"These are anarchists, and the politicians out there - yes they're weak, but they're afraid of these people, they're actually afraid of these people - and that's why they say we don't want the federal government helping," said Trump in the oval office.

The president's escalation of his "Law and order" tactics weren't well received in Michigan or most other cities he threatened to deploy federal troops to. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called the president's statement "deeply disturbing" and said, "quite frankly, the president doesn't know the first thing about Detroit." Attorney General Dana Nessel said the decision was about "using the power of his office as a cudgel to punish those who use their constitutionally guaranteed rights...."

"Such threats undermine peace and stability in our communities by unnecessarily escalating tensions and encroaching on states’ rights,” Nessel said. “We are a nation of laws, and the President’s attempts to intimidate our communities with threats of violence could not be more un-American."

Even U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, got into the action Monday when she said she planned on standing between any presence of federal agents and the people in the city.

Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit police chief James Craig issued a statement on the matter Tuesday: 

"Neither the City of Detroit nor the Detroit Police Department has had any contact from any representative of the federal government about any plans to sends DHS officers to Detroit. There could be no possible justification for such an action. The Detroit Police Department has had the support of the Detroit community in making sure our City did not have a single store looted or a single fire started during the protests. 

Unlike nearly every other major city in the country, the Detroit Police Department never requested assistance from the National Guard - we handled our issues as a community. We definitely have no need for any federal presence being sent in now."

It's also not entirely clear what the president was referring to when citing "anarchists" in Detroit. Like most cities, widescale protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police took place in Detroit for several weeks. Hundreds of arrests were made on the first few nights as protesters and police officers clashed in different parts of the city. However, that was in late May and early June.

Since then, demonstrations in the city have been relatively peaceful, a sentiment that both Chief James Craig and Mayor Mike Duggan have repeatedly cited. Trump offered no further explanation about why agents were needed in Detroit.

The appearance of federal agents in a city was first reported in Portland, Oregon, when protesters said they were being detained by troops and being placed in unmarked vans. The incidents took place during continued violence in the city between demonstrators and law enforcement. It was also met with widespread condemnation from the city's mayor, Oregon's governor, and the state attorney general who said they'd be filing a lawsuit against federal agents. 

The president said the agents dealing with unrest in Portland have "done a fantastic job." The Chicago Tribune also reported the Department of Homeland Security is planning to deploy 150 federal agents in the city this week.

Even with protests remaining peaceful, Detroit Police did have their hands full this weekend when they were called to around 30 incidents of reported shootings in the city. Seven people died including three men in an incident at a coney island.