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The Department of Justice announced today that it has identified 3 cities as jurisdictions of permitting violence and destruction of property. New York City, Portland, and Seattle have all been specifically named because they “refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities”.

Attorney General William Barr 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,” he said. “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.”

The criteria the DOJ used for evaluating each city is as follows:

  • Whether a jurisdiction forbids the police force from intervening to restore order amid widespread or sustained violence or destruction.
  • Whether a jurisdiction has withdrawn law enforcement protection from a geographical area or structure that law enforcement officers are lawfully entitled to access but have been officially prevented from accessing or permitted to access only in exceptional circumstances, except when law enforcement officers are briefly withheld as a tactical decision intended to resolve safely and expeditiously a specific and ongoing unlawful incident posing an imminent threat to the safety of individuals or law enforcement officers.
  • Whether a jurisdiction disempowers or defunds police departments.
  • Whether a jurisdiction unreasonably refuses to accept offers of law enforcement assistance from the Federal Government.
  • Any other related factors the Attorney General deems appropriate.

The DOJ’s announcement was in response to the President’s September 2nd memorandum, which asked 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. The memorandum stated in part, “It is the policy and purpose of the United States Government to protect the lives and property of all people in the United States from unlawful acts of violence and destruction. Without law and order, democracy cannot function. Americans cannot exercise their rights, including their rights to peaceful expression, assembly, and protest. Property is destroyed, and innocent citizens are injured or killed.

The President continued, “Unfortunately, anarchy has recently beset some of our States and cities. For the past few months, several State and local governments have 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. As a result of these State and local government policies, persistent and outrageous acts of violence and destruction have continued unabated in many of America’s cities, such as Portland, Seattle, and New York.

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.

Washington, D.C. was not included on the list published on the DOJ’s website 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.” Likewise, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, earlier this month threatened to sue the Trump administration if federal funds were cut.