Threatening to pursue criminal charges against federal law enforcement officers who come to Baltimore wielding “illegal vigilante” tactics, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby on Thursday denounced President Donald Trump’s pledge to send agents to Baltimore in an op-ed and subsequent tweet.
The op-ed, published in The Washington Post and written with Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, warned Trump to “stay out of our cities” in response to the president’s Monday remarks at a White House briefing, where he cited both cities as requiring additional law enforcement resources but provided no information about why and what resources specifically are needed.
“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 wrote. “We will not allow federal agents to criminally attack citizens in our cities, acting under the illusory authority of a conceited demagogue who prioritizes his self-interest above the national interest.”
Mosby’s and Krasner’s comments follow the recent protests in Portland, Oregon, where demonstrators protesting on behalf of the Black Lives Matter movement have clashed with camouflaged Department of Homeland Security agents — some of whom were without name tags or operating unmarked vehicles.
The legality of this has come into question as Oregon’s attorney general pursues a lawsuit against the federal government.
But Trump said law enforcement officers in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Oakland, California, and Philadelphia often “can’t do anything” and need help quelling violence.
This sudden declaration seemed to surprise to the Baltimore Police Department, which said the White House has not contacted it about providing more federal agents. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that he did not know what they would do if they came, since the city’s protests have been largely peaceful.
“I don’t know what the comment was even about,” Hogan said during an online Board of Public Works meeting. “We’ve heard no real details about anything happening in Baltimore. And I don’t know what they would do if they came because we don’t have any protests like you’re seeing in Portland and Chicago and New York and other places like that.”
Protesters have taken to Baltimore’s streets since late May following the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. But the demonstrations have remained largely nonconfrontational in nature.
Other Maryland officials, including Comptroller Peter Franchot and Attorney General Brian Frosh, have also voiced concern in response to Trump’s comments. Mosby’s statement is the latest among a chorus of resounding disapproval from state and local officials.
She and Krasner said both offices in Baltimore and Philadelphia would pursue criminal charges, forging ahead with local prosecution that they said would be protected in U.S. code. They said they could hold off on proceeding until after the November election, implying that they could bring charges against Trump once he is no longer president.
“In the meantime, local prosecutors would have the authority to subpoena individuals and make them appear before a grand jury,” they wrote. “Obtaining cooperation and evidence from federal authorities would presumably revert to pre-Trump norms under a new administration.”
A Homeland Security spokesperson has not responded to an inquiry Monday from The Baltimore Sun.
In Washington, Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen joined fellow Democrats this week in introducing legislation to halt “federal paramilitary occupations in American cities,” according to a news release about the bill.
Baltimore Sun reporters Justin Fenton, Jessica Anderson, Tim Prudente and Jeff Barker contributed to this article.