Despite daily protests, the governor of Oregon and the mayor of Portland have both said they don’t want the help of federal officers, saying the presence of the troops is just escalating tensions further. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor says this type of federal assistance won’t be necessary for an upcoming visit by President Donald Trump, unless she asks for it.
Trump has since signaled that he’ll send troops to occupy other Democrat-run cities like New York City, Chicago, Kansas City, Baltimore, Oakland, Philadelphia and Detroit. It's unclear if Tampa will be included, but with protests planned for his local fundraiser on July 31, Castor told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay that a federal response to protesters would only be appropriate if there was a request from both her office and the Tampa Police Department.
“If the community needs assistance with their violent crime, they should request assistance, not the other way around,” Castor told CL.
Besides Trump’s Tampa visit, the president will also make a fundraising stop in Miami on August 1, according to a fundraiser alert obtained by the Sun Sentinel.
Both stops will allow donors to spend up to $100,000 for perks including a photo, access to a roundtable and a reception with the president.
Since early July, officers with the Department of Homeland Security have made national headlines for patrolling Portland in unmarked vans and detaining people without identifying themselves.
The federal agents, who are outfitted in Army-style camouflage with no identification other than a "Police" label on their outfits, are made up mostly of Border Patrol agents. According to acting DHS Director Chad Wolf, the troops were deployed to Portland in an effort to protect a federal courthouse and to quell “violent mobs,” who’ve been protesting systemic racism and calling for sweeping police reform.
The deployment, which is called “Operation Legend,” is billed by the Trump administration as a “sustained, systemic and coordinated law enforcement initiative” to aid local police. It’s also been called unlawful, and a way for Trump to create a new “darker” campaign message.
Last week, three House committee chairs demanded an internal investigation into whether the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security "abused emergency authorities to justify the use of force" against peaceful protesters.
Like Portland, the city of Tampa has experienced its own near-daily Black Lives Matter protests, which have resulted in the Tampa Police Department making multiple arrests, firing chemical agents and rubber bullets at crowds, and violently arresting peaceful protesters.
As CL has previously reported, use of force during arrests by TPD has jumped 24% under Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan. According to an internal report obtained by CL, 15 out of the 25 categories the department uses to track use of force techniques saw a significant increase since 2017. However, the biggest jump was with chemical agents. Under Dugan, TPD’s use of pepper spray and tear gas has grown by 223%.
Despite calls from protesters for police reform and for the removal of Dugan, Castor has stated that the chief's job is secure. On June 25, spokesperson Bauman told CL in a text message that, "Dugan is the chief at TPD and there have been no discussions about a change at the top."
On July 31, the same day as Trump’s visit, activists from Tampa’s Black Collective Movement are planning a “No Trump, No KKK, No Racist USA” protest. “Let’s make sure this day is unforgettable AND unwelcoming,” says the caption for the flier. As of now, no meeting location, or other details are available.
UPDATED: 07/24/20 7:50 a.m. Updated to direct quote Mayor Castor.
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