WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the House passed by a voice vote an amendment presented by Representatives Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Deb Haaland (NM-01), and Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05) that would directly impact the federal government’s ongoing interference in Portland and other U.S. cities. The amendment to the Defense, Commerce, Justice, Science, Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General Government, Homeland Security, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Act (H.R. 7617) will prohibit funds from being used for DOJ’s Operation Legend and Operation Relentless Pursuit, which are being used to send federal law enforcement officers into various cities across the U.S.
“Operation Legend and Operation Relentless Pursuit are a continuation of the same disgraced tough on crime policies that have failed to keep our communities safe while disproportionately locking up Black and brown people,” Congresswoman Tlaib said. “Many communities in my district have been systematically overpoliced, and at a time when trust is low and people are crying out for justice, the presence of unidentified federal agents in our neighborhoods only serves to escalate conflict that will disproportionately harm our neighbors of color. I am proud to cosponsor this amendment to defund this blatant attempt to sow fear and division in order to save the President’s poll numbers.”
“Federal law enforcement officers are snatching Americans off of street corners and placing them into unmarked cars for the ‘crime’ of exercising their First Amendment rights. The United States of America should not have secret police,” said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. “The idea that these federal law enforcement officers are there to protect Americans is a farce. In his testimony this week, Attorney General Bill Barr made clear once again that his only priority is to reelect the President, not to protect the American people.”
“We’re seeing federal forces crack down on protestors and make illegal arrests. AG Barr and President Trump are abusing their power to brutalize communities that didn’t ask for federal intervention. It is my desire to see a final minibus bill that makes it clear that Congress won’t allow Trump to send untrained, unwelcome stormtroopers to American cities,” said Congressman Ted Lieu.
“The mission of law enforcement is to protect and serve our communities, but when the Trump Administration sends federal officers into our cities, they harass people and abuse their power. This amendment will protect our communities from President Trump’s attempts to make our neighborhoods combat zones in his efforts to silence us,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland.
“Trust grows out of credibility, and credibility grows from clear, honest communication,” said Congressman Cleaver. “Due to the constant untruths and misrepresentations from the Attorney General and this Administration, they have forfeited any benefit of the doubt with these operations. What we need are bipartisan solutions to address the root causes of this troubling rise in violence, including easy access to guns and unequal access to economic prosperity. Until then, Congress should not give this administration free reign to infringe upon the rights of American citizens to peaceably assemble in cities across the country.”
The passage of the amendment comes two days after Detroit U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider’s announcement that dozens of federal agents are being assigned to the city to “root out violent criminals” under an expansion of a Trump’s Operation Legend. Federal authorities who joined him in the press conference where he made that announcement, including leaders from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service, insisted agents would not get involved in protests—but that is not what’s been observed in other cities like Portland. Congresswoman Tlaib therefore stands by the effort to bring an end to the operation and help prevent the disproportionate arrests of Black and brown citizens in Detroit.
The full text of the amendment is available here.