16:52 GMT04 August 2020
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    At the beginning of July, Attorney General William Barr announced the creation of a nationwide initiative to address the surge in crime in several cities. A group of more than 100 federal agents, including from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, were sent to Kansas City.

    The US Department of Justice has announced that it will expand Operation LeGend, which is aimed at combating violent crime. The department said that as part of the expansion, it will send federal agents to Detroit, Milwaukee, and Cleveland.

    "Today, we have extended Operation Legend to Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee, three cities that have seen disturbing increases in violent crime, particularly homicides", US Attorney General William Barr said in the release.

    The move comes as hundreds of federal agents were sent to Chicago, Albuquerque, and Kansas City following a spike in homicides and other violent crimes that started following massive protests over racial discrimination and police brutality.

    In Kansas City alone there has been a roughly 40 percent increase in homicides compared with the same period in 2019. Among the victims was a four-year-old boy, who was killed in his bed.

    The announcement caused concern among officials in Milwaukee, who were sceptical about the agents’ presence, doubting that the mission was really to curb the violent crime and not to clamp down on the demonstrations against racial inequality and police brutality, which are still ongoing in various parts of the United States.

    However, FBI Special Agent Robert Hughes assured that "Operation Legend should not be confused with protest activity" going on in the city.

    Meanwhile, Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown announced that the federal government had agreed to a gradual withdrawal of fed agents from the city of Portland, the scene of violent demonstrations against discrimination.

    "State and local law enforcement will begin securing properties [in Portland] and streets, especially those surrounding federal properties, that have been under nightly attack for the past two months", said Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, announcing the news jointly with Governor of Oregon Kate Brown.

    Later, Chad Wolf issued a conflicting statement saying that federal agents will remain in Portland until the protesters stop attacking government properties in the city.

    Massive protests across swept the United States at the end of May following the death of George Floyd, an African-American man, who died at the hands of a white policeman in Minneapolis. Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes despite the fact that Floyd was telling him and other police involved in the arrest that he could not breathe. His death caused huge outcry in the United States and reignited a longstanding debate on racial inequality in the country.

    At some point the demonstrations turned violent, with protesters defacing public monuments, burning buildings, and looting shops. The violence was harshly criticised by President Donald Trump, who vowed to send federal forces to cities if local authorities failed to address the violent protests.

     

    Tags:
    George Floyd killing, Department of Justice, William Barr, violent crime, Donald Trump, United States
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