On Monday, the Justice Department named Portland, Oregon, New York City, and Seattle as anarchist jurisdictions, cities that the Trump administration said have permitted violence to continue during months of civil protests over racial inequality and police brutality and may lose federal funding.
The naming of the three cities, all headed by Democrats, was in response to the Sept. 2 executive order of President Donald Trump, which threatened to withdraw federal funds from cities where the administration said state and local officials cut funding from the police force, rejected federal government assistance offers, and failed to rein in crime. Guidance on limiting the eligibility of cities for federal dollars will be issued by the Office of Management and Budget. When the protection of the citizenry hangs in the balance, we can not allow federal tax dollars to be wasted. In a statement, Attorney General William Barr said it is my hope that the cities named by the Department of Justice today will change course and become serious about fulfilling the basic role of government and start protecting their own people.
The mayors of Portland, Seattle, and New York City denounced the decision as a political stunt to punish the crisis-stricken Democratic cities in the midst of a deadly pandemic and accused the Trump administration of seeking to divest itself from its failure to control the spread of coronavirus, which has killed nearly 200,000 people in the country. As he seeks a second term, Trump has campaigned on a law-and-order message, casting inner neighborhoods as centers of violence. This is thoroughly illegal and political. The President is playing cheap political games with funds guided by Congress, the three mayors said Monday in a joint statement. What the Trump Administration is now engaged in is more of what we have seen all along: shirking transparency and blaming its weakness elsewhere.
This is the latest in an escalation of friction between the Trump administration and Democratic mayor-led cities, as civil unrest over racial inequality, triggered by the police killing of George Floyd and other Black citizens, has spread over several months. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Monday that he saw nothing but chaos as he greeted pre-school kids back in the classroom in Queens on their first day. Officials will sue the Trump administration if it withholds federal funds, the city’s corporation counsel has said. Threatening to withdraw federal funds, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said, is a gross abuse of federal authority. Durkan said Monday, referring to a New York Times report last week that Barr had asked the Civil Rights Division of the agency to investigate whether to charge Durkan for allowing protesters to establish a police-free zone this past summer, Trump, the Department of Justice, and Barr’s obsession with Seattle and me is irrational and, most importantly, a huge distraction.
Department of Justice denied Barr having guided prosecutors to do so. The Mayors of Portland, Seattle, New York City, and Washington, D.C., said withdrawing federal funds would be unconstitutional in a joint statement following Trump’s executive order this month. Washington, D.C. was also singled out by Trump’s executive order, although the Justice Department did not classify the city as an anarchist jurisdiction. However, the department said it only recognizes cities that meet the standards set by the White House. Fighting a pandemic and economic catastrophe without another stimulus, we face immense challenges. Today, instead of the White House leadership, we are facing fresh unconstitutional assaults that will inevitably be defeated in court, the mayors said.
The Department of Justice identified a variety of reasons for selecting Portland, Seattle, and New York City, one of which is the decision of the cities to abolish jobs and slash their police budgets by thousands of dollars. The department also explicitly listed the so-called Coordinated Protest Area of Capitol Hill, or CHOP, several city blocks taken over after Floyd’s death by demonstrators. In July, Seattle police cleared the scene. Young white people walk into what is known as CHAZ, as a tuba player lofts a jaunty tune into the evening air, White Claw seltzers in hand. A woman draws chalk art on the street while hundreds of others wait patiently in line to buy hot dogs, ignoring the free food stacked in the No Cop Co-Op tent across the street. A red-haired woman roller-skating in turquoise boots and couples with $16 craft Negronis wander around the six-block city.
A Pilates teacher poses at the Free Cap Hill sign for photographs, and a group of individuals sits on couches by a Post-It filled Dream Board at the Conversation Cafe. Seattle demonstrators who violently clashed with riot police over George Floyd’s death have had their rough edges dulled by tens of thousands of visitors and sightseers in a few short days. CHAZ has evolved into what looks and sounds like a mini-Burning Man festival, complete with its own corps of volunteer street cleaners and medics, as well as dreadlocked white girls blowing soap bubbles and taking selfies in front of paintings of men and women killed by Se, once denounced by President Donald Trump and Fox News pundits as a sanctuary for anarchists and the far-left Antifa movement.
Home to Seattle, King County has about 2.2 million people and is about 65 per cent white. Just about 6 per cent of residents are Black, and the Seattle Police Department has a long history of disproportionate use of force against the minority population of the city. In 2012, the Justice Department of President Barack Obama instituted tight control of the Seattle police, leading to a 60% decrease in the use of serious force against the community over the next eight years as taxpayers pumped an additional $ 100 million into the department. Floyd, 46, a black man in Minneapolis, was held to the ground by police eighteen days later on Memorial Day after being suspected of passing a bogus $20 bill at a grocery store. Floyd gasped for air in a video of the confrontation as the officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes as three other officers looked on.