The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced today that three cities – New York City, Portland and Seattle – are “jurisdictions permitting violence and destruction of property.” DOJ announced that a review was taken out in response to President Trump’s “Memorandum on Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities,” that was signed on 2 September.
Attorney General William Barr is quoted in the memo, as noted below. The memo mentions increases in crime rates in those cities but does not address the property damage and loss which occurred in those cities during the protests. As Fox News reported, “in Minneapolis, costs related to the protests could hit higher than $500 million. In Portland, Ore., nearly 80 nights of destruction have caused the liberal locale $23 million and counting. In Chicago, a city that’s seen soaring crime rates and corruption at the highest levels, the damage done from the protests has not only hit high-end retailers but crippled hundreds of mom-and-pop stores trying to eke out a living.” It is unknown what total costs for the cities affected by the riots may be, nor is the full extent of how mom and pop businesses will ultimately be affected by the unrest – or how many of them will survive those losses.
“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,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “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.”Justice.gov
That memo lists a number of predicates for determining whether a jurisdiction is not carrying out of its responsibilities to enforce public order and the law – including defunding police forces, preventing police from carrying out their lawful duties, etc.
New York City (criteria cited by DOJ)
- 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 firefighters 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.