The Black Lives Matter movement filed a lawsuit in federal court on Thursday to prevent President Donald Trump from sending 200 federal law enforcement officials to help Mayor Lori Lightfoot fight surging crime in the city.
The lawsuit, in which the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America has joined Black Lives Matter’s Chicago branch as a plaintiff, names federal law enforcement officials as defendants in a civil rights claim.
On Wednesday, President Trump announced that he would be sending federal law enforcement officials to Chicago and other cities as part of Operation Legend to fight a surge in violent crime since the recent Black Lives Matter protests.
The president and his administration have noted that the primary victims of that crime wave have been African American. Federal officials are being deployed to shore up the efforts of local law enforcement agencies struggling under the burden.
The Black Lives Matter complaint claims that “The President and his appointees are sending federal agents to the streets of Chicago in order to intimidate and falsely arrest civilians who are exercising their constitutional right to speak and to assemble.”
The complaint further asserts that federal law enforcement personnel have “terrorized the people of Portland, Oregon,” where they have been deployed to protect a federal courthouse from vandalism and firebombing by violent activists.
“Rarely in modern times has a President of the United States trampled on bedrock constitutional protections on this scale or so brazenly usurped states’ police power by directing federal agents to carry out an illegal mission against the people for his own personal political benefit,” the complaint states, adding that they have been engaged intensively in peaceful protest in Chicago for the past eight weeks,” and plan to continue their “peaceful” demonstrations in the near future.
Much of the complaint consists of claims of brutality against demonstrators by the Chicago Police Department. It also accuses Trump of using a “secret police force,” adding: “President Donald Trump has long fancied himself a strongman leader better suited for a dictatorship than a democracy.”
On Monday, the department released surveillance video that showed Black Lives Matter demonstrators smuggling weapons and projectiles into Grant Park during a demonstration last weekend against a statue of Christopher Columbus. While “peaceful” protesters shielded militant activists from view, they hid behind protest banners and donned black clothing. They also distributed frozen water bottles to throw at police, and sharpened PVC pipes into spears.
Mayor Lightfoot accepted the president’s offer of help on Wednesday evening on the express condition that federal officials not be involved in patrolling local protests — which have devolved into riots that are drawing local police away from regular patrols.
Nevertheless, federal law enforcement officials are being deployed to help the city fight a surging wave of violent crime — not to respond to riots, which — unlike in Portland — are not currently targeting federal property in the city.
Black Lives Matter is unhappy about that, asserting in its complaint: “The assent of Chicago’s Mayor to the surge of federal forces means that when the President sends federal agents to Chicago, as he did to Portland, the CPD and the City will be unable and unwilling to protect protestors from unlawful use of excessive force and arrests without probable cause.”
The group says it will return to Grant Park this weekend.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Chicago in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.