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Federal agents sent to Kenosha, but history shows militarized policing in cities can escalate violence and trigger conflict

Sending in the feds to quell unrest often increases conflict on the ground, as it did this summer in Portland, Ore. Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Angélica Durán-Martínez, University of Massachusetts Lowell

The U.S. Justice Department has dispatched federal agents and U.S. marshals to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where a police shooting left an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, paralyzed. The Aug. 23 shooting triggered fury, protest and nights of deadly conflict.

Kenosha is the latest city to see federal intervention in demonstrations against police violence. Citing its responsibility to stop “violent anarchists rioting in the streets,” the Trump administration sent armed Justice Department agents to Portland and Seattle in July. In May, after the police killing of George Floyd, it deployed National Guard troops to Washington, D.C. Continue reading

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