The Department of Justice labeled New York City, Portland, and Seattle as cities “permitting violence and destruction of property,” in a statement Monday.
Attorney General William Barr said state and local leaders in these cities are endangering citizens, including peaceful protestors.
“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 said.
Citing various failures by each city such as rising gun violence, police budget cuts, lack of prosecution for those arrested and charged with “protest-related charges,” lack of protection against property destruction and vandalism, rejection of federal law enforcement, and allowing anarchists to take over certain geographical areas such as CHOP, the DOJ noted that these cities all failed to handle the rapidly increasing violence that occurred in their areas in response to the death of George Floyd in May.
DOJ said other cities will be evaluated for the list using qualifications including the prohibition of police intervention, removal of law enforcement from certain areas, defunding of police departments, the acceptance or rejection of federal law enforcement to the area, and “any other related factors the Attorney General deems appropriate.”
The statement from the DOJ comes in response to a memorandum issued by President Donald Trump in early September asking the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Attorney General Barr to list the areas that “have permitted violence and the destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract these criminal activities,” calling them “anarchist jurisdictions” and for the OMB to report and evaluate the federal funding to those areas.
“My Administration will not allow Federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones. To ensure that Federal funds are neither unduly wasted nor spent in a manner that directly violates our Government’s promise to protect life, liberty, and property, it is imperative that the Federal Government review the use of Federal funds by jurisdictions that permit anarchy, violence, and destruction in America’s cities,” Trump wrote.
While Portland, Seattle, and New York City were all mentioned in the DOJ’s report as well as the memorandum, Washington, D.C. was not included on the list despite Trump’s insistence that “Mayor Muriel Bowser allowed rioters and anarchists to engage in violence and destruction in late May and early June, requiring me to call in the National Guard to maintain law and order in the Nation’s Capital.”