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Legal Analysis: The Role Of Federal Forces In Local Protests And The Evolving Power Of DHS




A protester holds his hands in the air while walking past a group of federal officers during a protest in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 21, 2020 in Portland, Ore.
A protester holds his hands in the air while walking past a group of federal officers during a protest in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 21, 2020 in Portland, Ore.
Nathan Howard/Getty Images

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President Donald Trump is planning to deploy federal agents to Chicago and possibly other Democrat-run cities as he continues to assert federal power and use the Department of Homeland Security in unprecedented, politicized ways.

DHS is slated to send about 150 Homeland Security Investigations agents to Chicago to help local law enforcement deal with a spike in crime, according to an official with direct knowledge of the plans who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. The agents, which are generally used to conduct investigations into human trafficking, drugs and weapons smuggling, were expected to stay in Chicago at least two months, according to the official. It’s not clear exactly how they will back up local law enforcement or when they will arrive, but they will make arrests for federal crimes, not local ones. It’s possible they may be deployed to other locations as well. Today on AirTalk, we discuss the legal ramifications of the use of federal forces during local protests and the evolving power of DHS. 

With files from the Associated Press

With guest host Libby Denkmann

Guests:

Gregory Pratt, reporter covering City Hall and Mayor Lori Lightfoot for The Chicago Tribune who has been covering the story; he tweets @royalpratt

David Sklansky, law professor and faculty co-director of the Criminal Justice Center at Stanford; former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles (1987-1994)