Operation Legend

Attorney General Barr Speaks About ‘Operation Legend'

U.S. Attorney General William Barr is expected to hold a news conference to deliver an update on "Operation Legend" in Chicago Wednesday morning.

The news conference will take place beginning at around 9:30 a.m. CST at the jury assembly room of the U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois in downtown Chicago, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Barr will be joined by several law enforcement officials, including: Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Regina Lombardo, Deputy Director of the FBI David Bowdich and three U.S. Attorneys: John Lausch of the Northern District of Illinois, Justin Herdman of the Northern District of Ohio and Thomas Kirsch of the Northern District of Indiana, according to the DOJ.

"Operation Legend" is a federal effort intended to help state and local officials fight violent crime, but the program drew skepticism after federal agents prompted backlash in Portland; activists there said agents in unmarked vehicles were abducting protesters off the street without cause.

Approximately 150 federal agents were sent to Chicago beginning in July as part of the urban crime fighting strategy, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot insisted that the moves were simply adding to existing infrastructure.

Lightfoot said the agents being sent to Chicago will not be used in the way they were in Portland, and that she has been “firm” in her stance against that type of show of 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.”

Despite the mayor’s assurances, many officials were skeptical about the program. More than 60 elected officials sent a letter to Lightfoot and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart in July asking that federal agents not be allowed to use city police or county sheriff property, staff or resources during their stay in Chicago.

The operation was launched in Kansas City, Missouri, in early July and was expanded to Chicago, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Memphis and Indianapolis in the weeks following.

So far, there have been more than 1,000 arrests across those cities, with the exception of Indianapolis. Of those, 217 have been charged with federal crimes, Barr said.

Federal authorities announced in August that 61 people were charged with federal crimes in Chicago under "Operation Legend." Attorney General William Barr said those charged face accusations related to firearms, narcotics and bank fraud.

Earlier, authorities had announced three men were charged with illegally possessing guns and ammunition, the first in Chicago prosecuted under the operation.

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