Today, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) designated three cities, New York City, Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington as “anarchist jurisdictions” because of the cities’ increase in crime and inability to quell riots from Black Lives Matter.
The move by the DOJ is in preparation for potentially rescinding millions of dollars in federal grants to these cities for failing to restore law and order.
In the announcement, the DOJ said that the cities received the designation because its mayors have “permitted violence and destruction of property to persist” and “have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities.”
The Justice Department noted five criteria that it used to evaluate whether a city should be designated as “permitting anarchy.” The DOJ inquired as to whether the city “forbids the police force from intervening to restore order” and whether it “disempowers or defunds police departments,” among other criteria.
In its press release, the DOJ noted that in New York City, “for July 2020, shootings increased from 88 to 244, an increase of 177% over July 2019.” Despite the massive increase in shootings, the New York City Council cut $1 billion from the New York Police Department. “The budget resulted in the cancellation of the new police recruiting class, cuts to overtime spending, and the transfer of certain police functions, including school safety, out of the NYPD,” the DOJ noted.
The city of Portland has experienced 100 straight nights of violent protests while shootings have increased “140% in June and July 2020 compared to the same period last year.” Despite this, the “Portland City Council cut $15 million from the police bureau, eliminating 84 positions.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, D, has rejected repeated offers from President Donald Trump to send in federal law enforcement officers to help quell the riots.
In Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan, D, permitted armed protests to take over “six square blocks” of the city in June, which became known as the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP). The DOJ notes that law enforcement officers and firefighters were prohibited from entering the zone. “The Seattle City Council, Mayor Durkan, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee publicly rejected federal involvement in law enforcement activities within the city of Seattle,” the DOJ also stated.
“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 a statement on the new designations.
“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,” he added.
The DOJ noted that it may add additional cities to the list in the future. The Justice Department is “continuing to work to identify jurisdictions” and “will periodically update the list of selected jurisdictions,” it noted.
The move by the DOJ was in response to a Presidential Memorandum issued on September 2, 2020 on “Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities.”
On the same day, President Trump tweeted, “My Administration will do everything in its power to prevent weak mayors and lawless cities from taking Federal dollars while they let anarchists harm people, burn buildings, and ruin lives and businesses. We’re putting them on notice today.”
You can follow this author on Twitter @MettlerZachary
Photo from Mark Hoffman via Imagn Content Services, LLC/REUTERS
Visit our Election 2020 page