Justice Dept. Labels Three Cities as 'Anarchy' Jurisdictions, Targets for Funding Cuts

Justice Dept. Labels Three Cities as 'Anarchy' Jurisdictions, Targets for Funding Cuts

Chip Somodevilla/Pool via Reuters

The Justice Department said Monday that New York City, Seattle and Portland, Oregon, would be designated as jurisdictions “that have permitted violence and destruction of property,” opening up the possibility that federal funding for those cities would be cut under a memorandum signed by President Trump early this month. The memo said the government should review the use of federal funds by jurisdictions “that permit anarchy, violence, and destruction.” It specifically mentioned Portland, Seattle, and New York as well as Washington, DC.

“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance,” Attonery General William Barr said in a statement. “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 Justice Department announcement criticized the Democratic leaders of those three cities for rejecting federal law enforcement involvement in response to social justice protests and said the cities “have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities.” Local leaders have said that President Trump was inflaming tensions by pressing for a stronger law enforcement crackdown on protests and sending armed federal agents to Portland.

The Justice Department said other cities may be added to the list based on a number of criteria, including whether they disempower or defund police departments or “any other related factors the Attorney General deems appropriate.”

What’s next: The White House budget office is supposed to issue guidance about cutting funding to the three cities, even though it’s not clear that Trump has the power to cut federal funding. “The Trump administration was unsuccessful in a similar funding-cut move against New York and other cities over their immigration policies. A federal appeals court ruled that the move violated the separation of powers spelled out in the Constitution,” The Washington Post reports. Then again, whatever the ultimate outcome, the administration has for now reinforced Trump’s “law and order” campaign messaging.