‘A Cold Day in Hell’: Trump’s Threat to Send Federal Agents to Philadelphia Was Met With Swift Backlash

Philadelphia Protests

Protesters gather on Interstate 676 in Philadelphia, Monday, June 1, 2020 during a march calling for justice over the death of George Floyd in Philadelphia, Monday, June 1, 2020. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By Patrick deHahn

July 22, 2020

“To send federal agents to police U.S. cities that have not requested such aid can only impede the work of local governments and exacerbate already heightened tensions in these cities.”

President Donald Trump threatened to deploy federal agents to Philadelphia, among other major U.S. cities led by Democratic leaders, after a controversial deployment in Portland, Oregon, which has seen legally questionable policing tactics and has inspired a national firestorm of controversy.

Local and state leaders, as well as protesters, have moved in a swift wave of backlash opposing the threat against Philadelphia. 

“The President’s threat is wrong on many levels,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “To send federal agents to police U.S. cities that have not requested such aid can only impede the work of local governments and exacerbate already heightened tensions in these cities.”

Kenney signed a letter addressed to the Trump administration, along with more than a dozen mayors, declaring their opposition to federal action in U.S. cities. 

A small group of protesters gathered in Center City on Tuesday night to oppose Trump’s threat. Kenney also announced the city has not been contacted about any possible federal action in Philadelphia. He promised his administration would “use all available means to resist” any unwelcome activity. 

The deployment to Portland is widely criticized for controversial and legally questionable tactics by agents sent there. They’ve conducted abrupt street arrests without clear reasoning, while wearing uniforms without proper identification and using unmarked vehicles. 

“My dad volunteered and served in World War II to fight fascism, like most of my uncles, so we would not have an American president brutalizing and kidnapping Americans for exercising their constitutional rights and trying to make America a better place, which is what patriots do,” Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement

“Anyone, including federal law enforcement, who unlawfully assaults and kidnaps people will face criminal charges from my office,” Krasner, as the city’s top prosecutor, declared.

The basis behind an order to send federal agents to Philadelphia is not quite prevalent at the moment. The Trump administration has cited a clause under the Homeland Security Act, allowing for federal agents to be sent to protect federal property; it isn’t clear, however, if such property is under threat in Philadelphia. 

The president has cited ongoing protests in Portland and gun violence in Chicago, a city with federal agents on the way, as reasoning for any orders. Philadelphia protests over the police killing of George Floyd have subsided but remain peaceful. There is, however, an uptick in gun violence in the city. 

Either way, former Pennsylvania governor and the country’s first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, disagrees with Trump’s defense. 

“Had I been governor, even now, I would welcome the opportunity to work with any federal agency to reduce crime or lawlessness in the cities,” Ridge, a Republican, said in a Sirius XM radio interview. “But I would tell you, it would be a cold day in hell before I would consent to an uninvited, unilateral intervention into one of my cities.”


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