By Marty Johnson
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) recently lashed out at President Donald Trump for his support of federal officers deployed to Portland in recent weeks, saying that the president’s “game plan” is to stoke racial tensions among the country.
“Trump wants to instigate a race war,” Rush, who has served in Congress since 1993, told radio show host Joe Madison. “He wants to have Black folks fighting white folks so he can rise up and say, ‘I’m the real Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and I’m the president. Reelect me.’ That’s what he’s trying to do. He’s trying to play to the fears, to the racial animus that exists among certain white people, and he will do anything and everything to do that because he wants to be reelected at all costs.”
Trump has been accused of racism at multiple points during his presidency, a record that has resurfaced amid his response to nationwide protests and unrest following the police killing of George Floyd on May 25.
He and his administration have taken a hard-line stance against the nationwide protests, with Trump often highlighting the violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement that have occurred. Black Lives Matter protests in downtown Portland, OR, have been going strong for more than 50 days. Amid the protests, several federal buildings were damaged, prompting acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to mobilize federal officials to the city at the end of June.
Trump and Wolf have both used fiery language to describe protesters. Last week, the acting secretary called demonstrators a “violent mob” and “lawless anarchists.”
In recent weeks, tensions between the protesters and federal officials have reached a fever pitch.
Two weekends ago, a protester was critically injured after being shot in the head by nonlethal ammunition fired by federal officers. On Friday, reports surfaced that federal agents clad in unidentifiable military fatigues and driving unmarked vans were picking up protesters and detaining them.
The conduct of the federal agents have been widely criticized, particularly by Democratic lawmakers, and have raised serious legal and constitutional questions.
The president on Monday said that he would possibly be sending more federal officers to other “Democratic” cities, saying that the agents in Portland were doing “a fantastic job.”
On Tuesday, Wolf doubled down as well, saying that the federal officers in Portland “will not retreat.”