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Attorney General William Barr vowed that federal tax dollars will not be “wasted” on cities that are not “protecting their own citizens” and allowing anarchy.
In a statement on Monday, Barr addressed the identification of New York City; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle, Washington by the Department of Justice as U.S. cities that have not taken “reasonable measures” to combat ongoing violence and rioting that was sparked by the death of George Floyd back in May.
“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,” Barr 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 attorney general added, following on President Trump’s executive order to limit federal funds to cities “permitting violence and the destruction of property to persist.”
The Justice Department announced Monday that the three cities are “jurisdictions that have permitted violence and destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities,” responding to Trump’s September 2 order for a review of those “jurisdictions that permit anarchy, violence, and destruction in America’s cities.”
“My Administration will not allow Federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones,” the president said, explaining that “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” and that “without law and order, democracy cannot function.”
The Justice Department listed certain criteria used to evaluate whether cities like New York, Portland and Seattle can find themselves on the list, such as whether the jurisdiction “forbids the police force from intervening to restore order amid widespread or sustained violence or destruction.”
Department of Justice Identifies New York City, Portland and Seattle as Jurisdictions Permitting Violence and Destruction of Property https://t.co/CvqKwNIQTw
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) September 21, 2020
Also to be factored is whether a jurisdiction “has withdrawn law enforcement protection” from an area or structure, if it “disempowers or defunds” police departments and if it “unreasonably refuses to accept offers of law enforcement assistance” from Washington, D.C.
The DOJ announcement included several examples in each of the cities named.
“Both Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo have forcefully rejected federal law enforcement support,” the press release noted, citing the increase in the number of shootings, gun violence and property damage in the city since protests began and how the New York City Council cut $1 billion in funding to the NYPD. District attorneys across the city have also “declined to prosecute charges of disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly arising from the protests.”
Cuomo slammed Trump’s executive order, telling reporters it was “another attempt to kill New York City” from the president.
“He better have an army if he thinks he’s gonna walk down the street in New York. New Yorkers don’t want to have anything to do with him,” Cuomo said earlier this month. “He can’t have enough bodyguards to walk through New York City. People don’t want to have anything to do with him.”
The Justice Department announcement Monday also highlighted the situation in Portland, noting that in September, the city “marked 100 consecutive nights of protests marred by vandalism, chaos, and even killing,” but just last month, Democrat Mayor Ted Wheeler “sent a letter to President Trump expressly rejecting the Administration’s offer of federal law enforcement to stop the violent protests.”
Seattle made the list for “permitting anarchists and activists to seize six square blocks of the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, naming their new enclave the ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’ (CHAZ) and then the ‘Capitol Hill Occupied Protest’ (CHOP),” according to the DOJ, which noted that Democrat Mayor Jenny Durkan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee “publicly rejected federal involvement in law enforcement activities within the city of Seattle.”