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Richmond Mayor Says ‘No, Thank You’ to Trump’s Federal Agents

National Guard
During weeks of protests, Mayor Levar Stoney has accepted deployments of National Guard and regional police forces in Richmond, but he's rejecting out of hand any deployment of federal agents by Pres. Donald Trump. (Photo: Coleman Jennings/VPM News)

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney says he has not requested and would not welcome the deployment of federal agents to quell anti-racist protests. 

Agents from various federal agencies - Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Patrol and the U.S. Marshals Service - were recently deployed in Portland, Oregon. The agencies received immediate criticism from local officials after videos of agents striking protesters with batons and stuffing protesters into unmarked vans went viral on social media.

When asked by VPM whether he has requested federal agents be sent to Richmond and if he was supportive of the tactic, Stoney simply said, “No, thank you.” City officials also said they have not received any indication that the federal government plans to intervene in Richmond. 

Earlier this week, Pres. Donald Trump announced that more federal agents would be deployed to Chicago and Albuquerque, N.M., as part of “Operation Legend.”

The administration sent mixed messages about whether or not the agents would be deployed to investigate violent crime or quash anti-racist protest. Attorney General William Barr said agents would focus on solving murders and taking down violent gangs. A day earlier, DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said they will “not retreat” from street protests against racism and police brutality. 

In Richmond, there have been near-nightly protests for more than 50 days. The first weekend of protests saw the burning of a GRTC bus and looting of some businesses along Broad Street. At times, protesters have clashed with Richmond Police officers and Virginia State Police, who have used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets against the crowd. Those tactics have also faced criticism, most notably from council members Michael Jones and Stephanie Lynch, who introduced a resolution to limit the use of so-called ‘less than lethal’ weapons. 

VPM has reached out to DHS’s Department of Public Affairs about whether they plan to deploy agents in Richmond. They did not immediately respond to a request for comment.