Baltimore, Philadelphia Attorneys Say 'Vigilante' Feds Will Face Criminal Charges

Baltimore's state attorney and the district attorney for Philadelphia have warned the Trump administration that if federal officers are deployed to the city, they will face criminal charges for any "vigilante" behavior.

In an op-ed published by The Washington Post, Marilyn Mosby, the state's attorney for Baltimore City and Larry Krasner, the district attorney for Philadelphia, accused President Donald Trump of seeking to draw attention away from his handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. with his federal crackdown on unrest in Portland and now, in other cities.

"Desperate times produce desperate measures. President Trump, sliding in the polls, flailing as COVID-19 cases surge, has sought a distraction by sending federal law enforcement officers into Portland," the attorneys wrote.

In recent days, federal officers' crackdown on unrest in Portland has dominated headlines, with one demonstrator being shot in the head with what appeared to be impact munitions and federal officers being seen forcing protesters into unmarked vehicles.

On Wednesday, Portland's Mayor, Ted Wheeler, was also caught up in the clashes after he was teargassed by federal officers while trying to hold peaceful talks with protesters.

"Scarier to us than even the Orwellian sight of federal agents in military fatigues assaulting citizens and bundling them into unmarked vehicles is that Trump has spoken of sending federal agents to Baltimore and Philadelphia," the two attorneys said.

"We were elected to prosecute violations of the law in these cities," they wrote. "We strongly believe that the actions in Oregon are illegal."

Therefore, they said: "Should the president proceed with his plan in our cities, his agents will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Any federal officers caught engaging in "illegal vigilante activities," the attorneys said, including "unlawfully assaulting and kidnapping people... will face criminal charges from our offices."

The warning from the two attorneys comes after President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he would be sending more than 200 federal agents to Chicago as part of the government's "Operation LeGend" operation, which was launched earlier this month to combat a "sudden surge of violent crime."

Already, Oregon's state attorney general has sued the Trump administration, accusing the federal government of having violated the civil rights of Oregonians.

"The authority of city officials to prosecute federal law enforcement officials is clear," Mosby and Krasner wrote. "While 28 U.S. Code § 1442 provides that federal law enforcement officers may remove such charges to federal court in limited circumstances, it does not stop the local prosecution."

"We do not believe that the agents in Portland came close to meeting the standard required to prevent local prosecution, and officers exhibiting such behavior in our cities are similarly unlikely to meet this threshold," they warned.

"We will not stand idly by while the president illegally turns loose paramilitary forces to commit criminal acts and violate the constitutional rights of innocent Americans for the purpose of energizing his base and improving his poll numbers," Mosby and Krasner said.

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.

A woman marches while holding a sign that says 'Solidarity with Portland' during a protest which started outside the Diana E. Murphy United States Courthouse on July 23, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Stephen Maturen/Getty