Barr announces 1,000 arrests in federal Operation Legend violent crime intervention

The arrests in Operation Legend include 90 murder suspects, the attorney general revealed

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Police investigate the scene of a shooting in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood on July 21, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 2000 people have been shot and more than 400 have been murdered in Chicago so far this year. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

When President Donald Trump announced he’d be sending federal agents to several cities experiencing spikes in gun violence this summer, most thought the move was government overreach.

Read More: What we have to lose with Trump: Criminal justice and fair policing

In July, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot told NBC5 Chicago that the agents were being sent to help the city, not take over for the police department or show unnecessary force.

“If there was anything that happened like that, we would be making sure that we did everything possible to stop that in its tracks,” Lightfoot said. “These are not troops. Troops are people who come from the military. That’s not what’s coming to Chicago, and I’ve drawn a very firm line against that.”

Chicago was one of the cities that has traditionally had a gang and gun violence problem, which was exacerbated this year, likely due to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

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WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 28: U.S. Attorney General William Barr testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in the Congressional Auditorium at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center July 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In addition, protests and police actions against non-violent protesters in several cities not only further eroded the public trust but drew law enforcement resources away from crime.

Now attorney general William Barr says the federal help has resulted in more arrests being made, including for violent crimes. According to USA Today, Operation Legend, the federal initiative to bring more agents in to help local law enforcement, is an unqualified success.

In July, federal agents were dispatched to nine cities – Memphis, Kansas City, Missouri, Chicago, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Indianapolis.

Barr says that 1,000 arrests were made across those cities, including 90 homicide suspects.

“Operation Legend is the heart of the federal government’s response to this uptick in violent crime,” Barr said Wednesday. “Its mission is to save lives, solve crimes, and take violent offenders off our streets before they can claim more victims.”

Federal overreach was suspected after protesters in several cities who took. to the streets in May and June to protest the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville and the Georgia shooting of Ahmaud Arbery by two white men.

Video of men believed to be federal agents taking protesters away in unmarked vans was filmed as protests swelled in Portland, Oregon. After 80 plus days of protests, some peaceful, some violent in Portland, federal officers were sent the city to “restore order.” But the protesters and the public believe the agents overstepped their authority by detaining suspects who committed no crimes.

However, Operation Legend, according to Barr, was strictly focused on assisting law enforcement with resources to address violent crimes. And the response in some cities was overwhelmingly supportive.

The operation was named after a Memphis boy, LeGend Taliferro, 4, who was killed in June when a man who had had several disputes with his family shot into his home. Taliferro was asleep in his family’s apartment when he was killed.

LeGend Taliferro (Family photo)

Ryson B. Ellis was arrested in August in Tulsa, Oklahoma for his murder.

Read More: 36 hours of violence leaves four dead, 36 shot in New York City

“Operation Legend is not to harass,” Charron Powell, Taliferro’s mother, said at the White House last month. She was there to support the deployment of agents in other cities.

“It’s not to harm or to hurt.  It is to help investigate unsolved murders, in which one of those happens to be our innocent, 4-year-old son. This operation is personal to us.  We want justice for our son and others. We have to take a stand in our communities and speak up to help this operation be successful.”

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