The United States Department of Justice named New York City, Portland, Seattle as “anarchist jurisdictions” that could potentially lose federal funding. The Trump administration said Democrats have allowed violence to persist during months of civil demonstrations over racial injustice and police brutality and could then lose federal funding.
On September 2, Trump issued an executive order designating the three cities, led by Democrat mayors, as anarchist jurisdictions. President Trump threatened to withhold federal funding from cities where the administration said state and local officials have cut police department funding, refused offers for help from the federal government, and failed to rein in violence. The Office of Management and Budget is sending guidance on restricting the cities’ eligibility for federal dollars.
“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,” said Attorney General William Barr in a statement.
The mayors of all three cities have previously criticized the move as a political stunt meant to bully and punish Democratic cities beset by a crisis brought by the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has been campaigning on a law-and-order message, casting urban cities as places plagued with violence, as he seeks a second term.
The New York City’s corporation counsel said the city would sue the Trump administration if it withholds federal funding. In a joint statement following Trump’s executive order, the mayors of Portland, Seattle, New York City, and Washington, D.C. said their cities and citizens are not the president’s “political pawns” and withholding federal funding would be illegal.
Tension with Democratic mayors started after the escalation of tension between the Trump administration and cities led by Democratic mayors, as civil unrest following the death of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of police has stretched into several months.
In a news conference on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio called the move “insulting” to New Yorkers. De Blasio said he saw “anything but anarchy” in the city Monday morning as he greeted pre-school children in Queens on their first back in the classroom. This is just one of President Trump’s games. It’s thoroughly political. It’s part of his campaign strategy.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan called the move an attempt to distract from the Trump administration’s failure to contain the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 200,000 Americans. The only anarchy zone in America, where the rule of law is disregarded, is at the White House,” Durkan tweeted earlier this month.