A federal officer stands in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse during a Black Lives Matter protest Friday, July 24, 2020, in Portland, Ore. On the streets of Portland, a strange armed conflict unfolds night after night. It is raw, frightening and painful on both sides of an iron fence separating the protesters on the outside and federal agents guarding a courthouse inside. This weekend, journalists for The Associated Press spent the weekend both outside, with the protesters, and inside the courthouse, with the federal agents, documenting the fight that has become an unlikely centerpiece of the protest movement gripping America. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Racial Injustice Portland Both Sides of Fence
A federal officer stands in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse during a Black Lives Matter protest Friday, July 24, 2020, in Portland, Ore. On the streets of Portland, a strange armed conflict unfolds night after night. It is raw, frightening and painful on both sides of an iron fence separating the protesters on the outside and federal agents guarding a courthouse inside. This weekend, journalists for The Associated Press spent the weekend both outside, with the protesters, and inside the courthouse, with the federal agents, documenting the fight that has become an unlikely centerpiece of the protest movement gripping America. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

“Furthermore, it is concerning that federal law enforcement is being deployed for political purposes.”

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Tucson Mayor Regina Romero joined over a dozen mayor across the country asking the Trump administration to stop the use of federal forces during protests in American cities. 

Gallego and Romero signed on to this letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf. 

The letter states, “Deployment of federal forces in the streets of our communities has not been requested nor is it acceptable…The majority of the protests have been peaceful and aimed at improving our communities. Where this is not the case, it still does not justify the use of federal forces. Unilaterally deploying these paramilitary-type forces into our cities is wholly inconsistent with our system of democracy and our most basic values.”

The group of mayors also sent a letter to Congress asking for a full investigation into the Trump administration’s ability to send federal agents into American cities. Mayor Kate Gallego added, “This abuse of power cannot continue.”

The Trump administration is facing multiple lawsuits questioning its authority to use broad policing powers. A lawsuit filed on Tuesday claims federal agents are violating protesters’ 10th Amendment rights by engaging in police activities designated to local and state governments. 

Last week the Oregon attorney general also sued, asking a judge to block federal agents’ actions. The lawsuit alleges masked agents are arresting people on the street with no probable cause.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced it plans to send federal forces to Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In a statement, Barr said, “The most basic responsibility of government is to protect the safety of our citizens.” 

Although Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was initially adamantly opposed, she now says that the U.S. attorney’s office will supervise the additional agents joining existing federal law enforcement offices.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Democratic Attorney General Hector Balderas said they will actively monitor federal law enforcement operations for any civil rights violations, while Albuquerque-based District Attorney Raùl Torrez said federal agents must stay within their traditional crime-fighting roles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.