Durbin To DOJ: We Will Not Allow What Happened In Portland To Happen In Chicago
Durbin Also Called On Congress To Pass Legislation To Block The Trump Administration From Deploying Federal Forces As A Shadowy Paramilitary Against Americans
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) on the Senate floor to discuss the events unfolding in Portland, Oregon, in which heavily armed, unmarked federal forces in unmarked vehicles were filmed grabbing protesters off the street. Durbin also discussed the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) announcement of an expansion of Operation Legend to Chicago, Illinois, and committed to hold DOJ accountable to the stated goal of the operation, which is to provide support and assistance to state and local law enforcement partners as they work to combat violent crime, and gun violence in particular. This morning, Durbin spoke to U.S. Attorney John Lausch from the Northern District of Illinois who gave Durbin his assurances that what happened in Oregon was not going to happen in Chicago.
“We were concerned at the beginning of this week because of your [Senator Merkley of Oregon] experience about what might happen in the City of Chicago. Senator Duckworth and I sent a letter to the President of the United States expressing that concern,” Durbin said. “The Department of Justice made an announcement yesterday that they were in fact sending… federal agents into Chicago in pursuit of an operation known as Operation Legend.”
Durbin continued, “I received a call this morning from U.S. Attorney John Lausch from the Northern District of Illinois… who gave me his personal assurance that what happened in Oregon was not going to happen in Chicago – that this Operation Legend, as he described it to me, was a coordination with state and local law enforcement in Chicago and the State of Illinois… I’ve also been alerted by Mayor Lori Lightfoot that she has received the same assurances and briefings as well as the Governor, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois. Our circumstances are different than the ones that Portland faced. I will tell you that we’re going to hold Mr. Lausch, as well as the Department of Justice and all others to their word, that we will not see in Chicago anything like what we witnessed in the streets of Portland, Oregon.”
In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin also called on the Senate to pass legislation to block the Trump Administration from deploying federal forces as a shadowy paramilitary against Americans. The Preventing Authoritarian Policing Tactics on America’s Streets Act, which was also introduced as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, comes after a week in which heavily armed, unmarked federal forces in unmarked vehicles were filmed grabbing protesters off the street in Portland, Oregon. The bill was introduced earlier this week by Durbin, and Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and 18 of their Senate colleagues.
“This is an issue we should have been voting on this week. There was no excuse for it. We’ve risen to the occasion before when an historic occasion shows that the Senate should express itself… and I hope we can resolve this issue quickly. If not today, as quickly as possible afterwards,” Durbin said. “I am a cosponsor of the legislation, which the Senator [Merkley] is offering. It’s basic. It is fundamental.”
Durbin concluded, “We will call and we will pass, I hope, on a bipartisan basis the reassertion of the basic principles of this country when it comes to the separation of powers and when it comes to the dignity which we ask in the streets of America under our Constitution.”
Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.
Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.
Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.
The Preventing Authoritarian Policing Tactics on America’s Streets Act would:
- Require individual and agency identification on uniforms of officers and prevent unmarked vehicles from being used in arrests.
- Limit federal agents’ crowd control activities to federal property and its immediate vicinity, unless their presence is specifically requested by both the mayor and governor.
- Require disclosure on an agency website within 24 hours of deployments specifying the number of personnel and purposes of deployment.
- Make arrests in violation of these rules unlawful.
On Tuesday, Durbin, along with Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), sent a letter to President Trump calling on him to refrain from sending secret federal agents into cities to conduct policing activities that are traditionally handled by local law enforcement.
In February 2017, Durbin and Duckworth (D-IL) sent a letter to President Trump suggesting a range of ways in which the federal government could work in partnership with local officials to provide support and resources to assist in public safety, violence prevention, and economic development efforts in Chicago.
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