Rashida Tlaib joins Detroit protesters, slams federal agents in the city
“To all the federal agents, you messed with the wrong district.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) listens as Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on “Trump Administration’s Child Separation Policy” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 18, 2019
(photo credit: REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS)
These deployments were part of Operation Relentless Pursuit, which saw agents from the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies deployed to Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee along with other cities as part of an effort of cracking down on crime.
Some have justified deploying troops to Detroit due to the crime rate there, which is the highest per capita in the US. Previously, Detroit US Attorney Matthew Schneider had welcomed the addition of federal agents, saying the crime in the city is “out of control,” with homicides up 31% and shootings up 51%.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan also said he would welcome the support of federal agents, so long as it means more efforts would be made by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives at getting illegal guns off the streets, Detroit News reported.
However, there are fears that agents could get involved in protests, which have been taking place in cities across the US following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.
In Portland, Oregon, these agents were videoed forcing protesters into unmarked vans on multiple occasions, and have reportedly fired pepper balls and tear gas on journalists and politicians.
Tlaib, one of the faces of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing and a member of the informal group “The Squad” alongside other young progressives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), has been outspoken in opposing the presence of federal agents in the city, claiming that the agencies use taxpayer money to violate the rights of citizens.
“Don’t let the secret police and the troops distract you,” Tlaib told demonstrators, Detroit News reported. “They’re tired of it because you’re requiring them work, why? You don’t want murals and symbols anymore, you want more than that.”
Tlaib also referenced John Lewis, the recently deceased Georgia congressman and civil rights activist.
“You inspired even [Lewis],” she told the demonstrators. “But they’re gonna make it out like he somehow was different from you all. He wasn’t. He spoke up about things that people didn’t want to hear about. You continue to do this for our kids because it will lead to meaningful action… and to all the federal agents, you messed with the wrong district.”