Washington, DC – The Department of Justice (DOJ) officially identified the cities of Portland, Seattle, and New York as jurisdictions that have “refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities” and have allowed violence and destruction of property to continue.
The DOJ announced on Monday that the three cities met the criteria set forth in President Donald Trump’s “Memorandum on Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities,” which he issued on Sept. 2.
The DOJ concluded that Portland, Seattle, and New York City were placed on the list after being evaluated on multiple facets.
“The Department of Justice is continuing to work to identify jurisdictions that meet the criteria set out in the President’s Memorandum and will periodically update the list of selected jurisdictions as required therein,” the DOJ noted.
As a result of the “anarchist jurisdictions” designation, the three cities could be subject to a loss of federal funding, WPIX reported.
“When state and local leaders impede their own law enforcement officers and agencies from doing their jobs, it endangers innocent citizens who deserve to be protected, including those who are trying to peacefully assemble and protest,” Attorney General William Barr said in the DOJ’s press release.
“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance. It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens,” Barr wrote.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday that designating the city as an “anarchist jurisdiction” is just “another one of President Trump’s games,” WPIX reported.
“I was out in Elmhurst, Queens this morning, and I saw peace, tranquility…I saw anything but anarchy,” de Blasio said. “It’s thoroughly political. It’s part of his campaign strategy. It makes no sense. It’s not based in the fact in the least. It’s insulting to the people of New York City.”
The mayor claimed that the President Trump is a racist who is always trying to divide the country as a political tactic.
“It’s all about race and it’s all about attempts to divide,” de Blasio told WPIX. “It is always: divide and create hatred and move people to vote based on that hatred…Pure campaign strategy, that’s what I’m seeing.”
The mayor and New York City Corporation Counsel James Johnson said that they will fight back if Trump follows through with threats to cut funding to the city, WPIX reported.
“The president doesn’t control the purse strings of the federal government. That’s set by Congress. He can’t undo this and simply direct funds where he wants to or withhold funds when he wants to,” Johnson told the news outlet. “Essentially this would be a high-tech heist — to try to use federal funds to coerce cities and states, which clearly he’s attempting to do.”
“By the way, your words don’t carry much weight on this topic because the Supreme Court has spoken,” de Blasio added, according to WABC. “The President of United States can’t interfere with federal funding for cities and states just because he feels like it. We have laws in this country. So, if you persist and trying to deny the funding, we will see you in court. And once again, we will beat you in court.”
Trump specifically admonished the cities of New York, Seattle, Portland, and Washington D.C. in the five-page memo, and said government officials had contributed “to the violence and destruction in their jurisdictions by failing to enforce the law, disempowering and significantly defunding their police departments, and refusing to accept offers of Federal law enforcement assistance.”
Due to city leaders’ lackadaisical approach in handling the violent rioters, “persistent and outrageous acts of violence and destruction have continued unabated” over the course of the past several months, the President said.
Trump blasted Seattle for allowing “anarchists and rioters” to take over six square blocks for over three weeks earlier this summer in order to establish their so-called Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) “autonomous zone.”
“Notwithstanding the fact that law-abiding citizens live and work in the invaded area, the local government effectively endorsed this lawlessness and taking of property by, among other things, abandoning the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct building and forbidding the police force from intervening to restore order,” the President wrote.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan allowed the chaos to continue – at one point describing the hostile takeover as the “summer of love” – until two teens were fatally shot and at least two others were wounded.
Riots have continued since the CHOP was dismantled, injuring more than 59 Seattle police officers and leaving multiple vehicles and businesses damaged or destroyed.
The President also called out Portland city leaders for allowing rioters to destroy the downtown area for over 100 consecutive nights.
“They have attacked Federal law enforcement personnel protecting the Federal courthouse with Molotov cocktails, mortar-style fireworks, hard projectiles, and lasers that can cause permanent blindness,” Trump said in the memo.
At least 140 federal officers have been injured in the attacks.
“For much of this period, State and local officials in Portland have taken insufficient steps to protect the Federal courthouse, and initially rejected offers of Federal law enforcement assistance,” the President added.
New York City officials “allowed looting to take place for over a week” in late May and early June, “resulting in damage to an estimated 450 businesses,” Trump wrote.
There have been 896 shootings in New York this year as of Aug. 16 – up from 492 shootings during the same period one year ago.
One of the victims was a one-year-old child.
“Shootings have been rising in recent weeks, and police reported 244 shootings last month compared to 88 in July 2019 — a 177 percent increase,” Trump noted earlier this month. “While violence has surged, arrests have plummeted.”
Despite the sharp increase in violent crime, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council opted to defund the city’s police force by a staggering $1 billion, resulting in the loss of 1,163 law enforcement positions as well as other cutbacks.
The department’s plainclothes Anti-Crime Unit has also been disbanded.
“I have offered to provide Federal law enforcement assistance, but both Mayor de Blasio and [New York] Governor Andrew Cuomo have rejected my offer,” President Trump said.
The President noted that “hundreds of billions” in taxpayer dollars are provided to states and localities by the federal government every year.
“These funds have been collected from American taxpayers who entrusted their money to the Federal Government to serve our communities and our citizens,” he wrote. “My Administration will not allow Federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones.”
Trump said he ordered the review in order to “safeguard” those tax dollars to ensure they are not being “wasted nor spent in a manner that directly violates our Government’s promise to protect life, liberty, and property,” by cities that “permit anarchy, violence, and destruction.”
Included in the definition are jurisdictions that forbid law enforcement “from intervening to restore order amid widespread or sustained violence or destruction,” according to the President.
Jurisdictions that have “withdrawn law enforcement protections” from areas or buildings where they are “lawfully entitled to access” may also qualify, as well as areas that have defunded or disempowered their law enforcement departments, the memo read.
Cities that “unreasonably” refuse to accept the federal government’s offers of law enforcement assistance may also be deemed as “anarchist jurisdictions.”
President Trump noted that the Attorney General’s Office may consider “other related factors” as it deems appropriate.
White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Russ Vought praised the President’s directive to review way cities are using taxpayer dollars.
“American taxpayers who fund the great programs that our cities rely on deserve to be protected by their local city officials,” Vought told the New York Post. “We are taking action by exploring all options to ensure federal resources flowing to lawless cities aren’t being squandered.”
The budget director said that the “lack of response” from some city leaders qualifies as “a dereliction of duty.”
“Our men and women in blue cannot be handcuffed by local leadership in their efforts to respond to riots and protect their fellow citizens,” Vought added.