The Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced a list of cities or “jurisdictions” in response to a Presidential Memorandum to review federal funding for cities where ongoing violent protests and riots have destroyed property and even resulted in deaths.
The DOJ said on Monday that Seattle, Portland, and New York City are on the list for review after President Donald Trump said cities that are permitting “anarchy, violence and destruction of American cities,” should not receive federal funding.
The memorandum said, 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.
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.
Attorney General William Barr, said in the announcement:
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. 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 New York Post reported on the DOJ move:
White House budget director Russ Vought is set to issue guidance to federal agencies on withdrawing funds from the cities in less than two weeks.
The list of cities eligible for defunding will be updated periodically, the feds have said.
It is not yet clear what funds are likely to be cut, but the amount of money siphoned from New York City could be massive, given the Big Apple gets about $7 billion in annual federal aid.
The DOJ announcement includes the criteria for jurisdictions to be on the list:
- 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 announcement than described how the three cities make the list:
New York City
- Shootings in New York City have been on the rise since looting and protests began on or about May 28, 2020. For July 2020, shootings increased from 88 to 244, an increase of 177% over July 2019. In August 2020, shootings increased from 91 to 242, a 166% increase over August 2019.
- While the city faced increased unrest, gun violence, and property damage, the New York City Council cut $1 billion from NYPD’s FY21 budget.
- 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.
- 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 de Blasio and Governor Cuomo have forcefully rejected federal law enforcement support.
- This month, Portland marked 100 consecutive nights of protests marred by vandalism, chaos, and even killing.
- Those bent on violence regularly started fires, threw projectiles at law enforcement officers, and destroyed property. Numerous law enforcement officers, among others, suffered injury.
- Shootings increased by more than 140% in June and July 2020 compared to the same period last year.
- In the midst of this violence, the Portland City Council cut $15 million from the police bureau, eliminating 84 positions. Crucially, the cuts included the Gun Violence Reduction Team, which investigates shootings, and several positions from the police team that responds to emergency incidents.
- In August, Portland Mayor Wheeler sent a letter to President Trump expressly rejecting the Administration’s offer of federal law enforcement to stop the violent protests.
- For nearly a month, starting in June, the City of Seattle permitted 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).
- Law enforcement and fire fighters were precluded from entering the territory. The Seattle Police Department was ordered to abandon their precinct within the CHOP.
- Person-related crime in the CHOP increased 525% from the same period of time in the same area the year before, including by Mayor Durkan’s own count “two additional homicides, 6 additional robberies, and 16 additional aggravated assaults (to include 2 additional non-fatal shootings).”
- The CHOP was allowed to stand for nearly a month, during which time two teenagers were shot and killed in 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.
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