Justice Dept. labels NYC, Portland, Seattle 'anarchist' over protests

Cheryl Sanders
September 22, 2020

The Department of Justice on Monday identified New York City, Portland and Seattle as cities that have allowed "violence and destruction of property to persist", as outlined in a presidential memorandum that could restrict access to federal funding. It is unclear what specific federal funding to these three cities will be slashed, but White House budget director Russ Vought is reportedly set to issue guidance to federal agencies on withdrawing funds from the cities in less than two weeks. Trump's order itself also singled out New York, Portland and Seattle.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump issued a memo expressing a desire for Seattle, Portland, New York City, and Washington, D.C., to have federal funding reviewed in light of their response to unrest.

Mr Barr said that he hoped the cities would "reverse course". The chief lawyer for NYC, Jim Johnson, stated that the city is considering legal action to challenge the designation.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has repeatedly called on the violence in his city to end all the way back to May, but has had no impact since he lacks follow though.

The DOJ is following a memo put out by Trump on September 2 that specifically named NYC, Portland and Seattle as cities that were "permitting anarchy, violence and destruction in American cities".

Whether a jurisdiction forbids the police force from intervening to restore order amid widespread or sustained violence or destruction.

New York City officials disagreed with the assessment, saying its legality was questionable.

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But the administration's criteria were scattershot and included "whether a jurisdiction disempowers or defunds police departments" and whether a jurisdiction "unreasonably refuses to accept law enforcement assistance from the Federal Government" - as well as "any other related factors the Attorney General deems appropriate".

The three cities earned the designation for efforts to reduce police funding, or for their response to the race riots that started in late May after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The area was taken down in early July after several shootings. In August 2020, shootings increased from 91 to 242, a 166% increase over August 2019.

In New York City, the DOJ cited the monthslong spike in gun violence in conjunction with the City Council's approval of a fiscal budget that reallocated $1 billion from the NYPD toward community and youth programming.

New York, the attorney general noted, "transfer [red] of certain police functions, including school safety, out of the NYPD".

Meanwhile, the Manhattan and Brooklyn District Attorneys have declined to prosecute charges of disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly arising from the protests, and the District Attorneys in Queens and the Bronx have declined to prosecute other protest-related charges.

"Both Mayor [Bill] de Blasio and Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo have forcefully rejected federal law enforcement support", the DOJ concluded in its statement.

One of the main criticisms regarding this memo authorizing defunding of jurisdictions is that it is not a power the president has at his disposal, unless Congress has specifically granted it.

Other reports by iNewsToday